BUCKHANNON — The Buckhannon Fire Department got an excellent real-world training opportunity this week thanks to West Virginia Wesleyan College. WVWC allowed the BFD to conduct practice exercises in some of their properties that are scheduled for demolition on Randolph Street.
Since the houses are scheduled to be completely dismantled and removed, the department was able to actually practice some destructive scenarios that are occasionally required, such as when a victim cannot be removed through a window and they have to cut out a larger opening to drag the person out. Hands-on trainings where firefighters get to literally act out potential situations are invaluable teaching tools.
Captain Brian Elmore was on scene as an observer and explained one of the rescue techniques the firefighters were practicing, which is known as “Vent, Enter, Isolate, Search”. He said, “What they did was ventilate the window, enter the building, isolate the door, and search the room while crawling and looking for the victim.”
When asked about a handheld tool they were using, Chief JB Kimble explained the Thermal Imaging Camera (TIC). It detects heat in a visual representation and is essential for managing a fire, as well as searching for victims. The TIC can “see” through anything but water and glass and gives a heat signature. He said the whiter the imaging, the hotter the object or area is. “They are key to the firefighter’s survival and finding victims”, Kimble stated. The BFD has five TIC’s and they cost approximately $6,000 each, but to the firefighters they are priceless.
Kimble said, “It’s a great benefit that they (WVWC) are allowing us to practice these rescue techniques here, because we’ve never been able to do this kind of training before.” He is hopeful to partner with the college for other trainings in the future. The three buildings on campus that make up the Camden Complex are also scheduled for demolition in June and Kimble would like to do a larger scale event and invite other departments to participate. He feels that the apartment style complexes would provide the perfect setting for an urban search and rescue class that would benefit fire departments nationwide.
WVWC’s CFO Scott McKinney coordinated this training opportunity with Chief Kimble and was glad that the buildings set for destruction could be of use and benefit to the local fire department. WVWC’s Director of Marketing and Communications, Larry Orman added, “We are always glad to be working with the community and being in close collaboration with local officials benefits everyone.”