A Busy Weekend (1/21-1/22) for our Volunteer Firefighters in Culpeper
On a cold, cloudy, drizzly Sunday, 19 volunteer firefighters from across the county and as far as away as Amherst, Virginia converged on south West Street in Culpeper to make use of two houses that will be demolished to make room for new construction. The seasoned instructors (208 years of combined experience) spent the morning starting at daybreak to prepare the house for what is known as VEIS training – Vent, Enter, Isolate Search. Once the houses were prepped, the group of firefighters spent the next eight hours running through different scenarios to perfect their skills to access and remove victims trapped in burning buildings. While we train in concrete and steel burn buildings to do similar training, having the opportunity to have two houses that present real life challenges was an excellent opportunity for these firefighters. Our thanks to JHB for allowing us to use the houses.
At the end of the day a debrief was held where Instructors thanked all the firefighters for their enthusiasm and full participation for the training throughout the day. Throwing ladders to the building, pulling hose lines, practicing search techniques in almost total darkness, removing rescue manikins (dead weight of 150 pounds) from first and second floors, clearing windows for entry/exits, understanding flow path and how to best control it with the materials available inside was a day that was both tiring and rewarding. As one of the instructors mentioned, everyone here is because they want to be, wanting to improve on skills, giving up a Sunday and NOT earning a pay check! An outstanding day of training!
Chief Mills, Chief Smith and myself took the time to thank the instructors for all their hard work and the transfer of information to the students. The experience was priceless and will make all those in attendance better firefighters. We thanked all the firefighters, both in-county and those visiting Culpeper, for making the day a huge success. The volunteer leadership in Culpeper continues to support hands-on training and we will support any training that makes us better. We were able to witness your desire, willingness to give your time and learn that makes each one of us proud to have you as members in our departments. A BIG thank you to each one of you.
One last update for the weekend. I also attended the Firefighter 1 Burn at the Burn Building facility in Orange, Virginia on Saturday. The Firefighter 1 Academy is wrapping up and the class put all they learned over the past four months into scripted scenarios. Students were assigned to five Engine Companies and were requested to complete the following assignments:
Engine 1 – Size up, on scene report, command statement, 360 report, transfer command, advance a charged hose line to the basement and attack a fire
Engine 2 – Force the door to the structure, follow hose line to the basement and assist Engine 1 with opening up the ceiling in the fire room and search other rooms in the basement for any potential other fires
Engine 3 – RIT (Rapid Intervention Team) duties, throwing ladders to 1st and second floors, assist with hose deployments by pushing the hose inside if needed
Engine 4 – Deploy a back-up attack line and prepare to carry out orders from command
Engine 5 – Prepare for a vertical vent (opening the roof). This requires throwing a ladder to the roof area, hoisting chainsaws and hooks, open hole in roof and return equipment to ground.
Each of the crews had to perform all of the above, so 5 rounds of activities that equates to a long day of hard work. What I wanted to highlight was that several of the attendees on Sunday also volunteered their time as instructors overseeing the class inside/outside the burn building to ensure duties were carried out and to be ready if there was a recruit in trouble inside. We also had crews building the fires inside throughout the day. We had some of the same volunteers getting pump time on the attack and supply engines and ensuring the SCBA bottles were topped off after each scenario.
Again, it is always amazing to see the support we have to carry out and support the training. Many of the support positions are unpaid and these same volunteers are there, supporting their new recruits/members in their training. Their investment is absolutely what makes our volunteers in our county able to carry out the duties required in real emergencies. My thanks to the cadre of instructors that have devoted a tremendous amount of time preparing our new firefighters and getting them to this level of competency. I certainly made it a point to thank the recruits for their efforts over the past several months, the support staff for their volunteering efforts for which none of this could have happened without them and lastly the instructors who were getting paid to ensure everyone went home at the end of the day safe and sound.
Article by Charles (Jr,) Perryman / Deputy Chief, Culpeper Co. Volunteer Fire Department