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Aug 19, 2016

Firefighters Train to Respond to Major Disasters

There was a fire and an accident in Ladyville and firefighters had to be called in to out the blaze, rescue victims trapped in the fire and extricate a critically wounded passenger from the motorcycle. It’s a firefighter’s worst nightmare, but luckily it was only a simulation as part of a training exercise that over seventy of them have been undergoing for the past week.  The program is a joint effort of the National Fire Service and the U.S. Embassy. News Five’s Duane Moody was there and has this report.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

Some seventy plus firefighters from across the country took part in a one week training that concluded today at the Ladyville Fire Station with a demonstration. The program was focused primarily on search and rescue, fire suppressions and rescue from road traffic accident and was made possible through a partnership with the U.S. Embassy and its Military Liaison Office in Belize.

 

Ted Smith

Ted Smith, Fire Chief

“The fire suppression capability has to do with live fire within our training facility behind me and the search and rescue was within the same area; we just created sections within the container so that the search and rescue personnel are still exposed to quite a reasonable or high temperature of heat, similar to what they would experience in a structure during firefight. The road traffic accident entails the extrication of a casualty after a road traffic accident occurred. The reality is that in a structure when there is a fire, it produces hot gases; to you, you recognize it as smoke. So let’s use smoke for simplicity. It produces smoke which affects visibility. And of course the fire produces light, but only within the immediate fire area, you will be able to see. So during the exercise, the search and rescue unit was blindfolded, creating a situation similar to entering a structure that is not directly impacted by the blaze, but the hot gas within the structure spread around as you can rightly remember from visiting other fires. The jaws of life as you know it as is a tool that is used to spread and create opening within a small area. Like if the door is unable to open, it can be forced in and pry the door open. It can also be used to pull objects together or lift objects from an area.”

 

Equipment used during the training and demonstration today are the property of National Fire Service. These were provided by the U.S. Embassy back in September of 2015 at a cost of approximately one point two million dollars.

 

Carlos Moreno

Carlos Moreno, U.S. Ambassador to Belize

“It includes the gear that you see the firefighters wearing, the oxygen equipment, the jaws of life, the saw and a number of other specialized equipment that is used in firefighting. And as you can see, lives are really at stake here and just going into the simulated situation, you can see how dangerous those circumstances are for anyone, much less a firefighter. Absolutely the kind of training that they are receiving today, we really want to thank the Puerto Rican National Guard, their firefighting unit for coming down here and spending time with the Belize firefighters and I also want to thank the U.S. government SouthCom Unit for really putting on and supporting both financially and with the units supporting this kind of training.”

 

After walking the media through the simulated fire and accident scenes, the reality is that the job of a firefighter is rather difficult and complex. And according to Fire Chief, Ted Smith, the department is both proactive and reactive.

 

Ted Smith

“The Fire Department has two sections—we have a proactive area which is the fire safety section where we try to sensitize the public in helping them to reduce the likelihood of a fire occurring at home. Through fire safety—the pamphlets that you see us issuing on the streets or the radio talk shows that we go on to tell people how to reduce the chances of a fire. And there is the reactive side. The reactive side is the operational side like the unit over there and this station. They will react after they get a call of an incident or a fire occurring. Now we are not aware that a fire will occur at a certain time—I mean realistically, it is impossible to get in time unless we are actually told that there will be a fire at ten o’clock this morning that that particular location.”

 

Duane Moody for News Five.

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