Firefighters converge in CG for aerial training

Members of South Lane County Fire and Rescue practice with the aerial ladder, which requires a combination of safety protocols and operational techniques.

South Lane County Fire and Rescue (SLCFR) played host to a training session last weekend as area fire authorities spread throughout Cottage Grove sites to practice use of their ladder truck equipment.

“Everyone came together for a big collaboration — a regional-type training for this aerial operator class,” said SLCFR Division Chief Aaron Smith. “And they get certification at the end of it.”

Between SLCFR, Philomath Fire and Rescue, Lane Fire Authority and North Douglas County Fire and EMS, around two dozen fire crew members took part in the hands-on training over two days.

“This is a rare class that the state training association is putting on for our region,” said Smith. “Today’s all about these ladder trucks.”

The state agency, Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training (DPSST), runs the training as needed throughout the state.

Fire Training Coordinator Robert Farino designed and teaches the class, which gives students a range of experience with their department’s ladder truck.

“It’s a range of exercises practicing what this truck will do and its typical uses,” said Farino. “So, water flow in an elevated master stream, roof access for crews, rescue from windows and other technical rescues. It’s really a multi-function tool. It’s more than just for putting a nozzle up in the air.”

SLCFR crew practiced deploying the truck’s ladder on Saturday to access the roof of the King Estate Winery building in Cottage Grove’s Industrial Park.

“They actually let us use their facility, which is great,” said Smith.

Saturday’s exercise at the site saw crew members extend the ladder from different vantage points to access key parts of the roof.

“If we’re going to send a crew up with chainsaws for ventilation — to cut out sections in the roof — we would put them up there,” explained Farino.

Other sites such as SLCFR’s headquarter station, the Warren H. Daugherty Aquatic Center parking lot and the old Harrison Elementary School, provided space for agencies to simulate other operations such as “below-grade” rescues down into a ravine.

“By the time we’re done, they’re well-rounded in all the different ways this truck is used,” said Farino. “It kind of takes them to that next level of application.”

The Fourth Alarm FOOLS (Fraternal Order of Leatherheads), a group of local firefighters also came down to help with instruction, said Farino, “To share some knowledge and experience from Eugene/Springfield.”

Last weekend’s training rounded out the last third of SLCFR’s crew to be trained on the ladder truck, which was purchased in 2017 with funds from a 2015 general obligation bond.

“Not everybody’s trained on it at the fire department. It’s definitely more difficult to get that training,” said Smith. “So, it was good to come together.”

Farino attested that it’s training that many need but is not available with high frequency.

“That’s why it’s good for us to do a regional class where we can invite everybody in. It’s more efficient,” he said.

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