Firefighters to host area training class

WESTFIELD – City firefighters will become better prepared to deal with a specific class of emergencies – those stemming from the collapse of a building – when they host a course prepared by the National Fire Academy on the subject this week.
City Fire Capt. Seth M. Ellis reports that the two day program, Incident Command Systems for Structural Collapse Incidents, will be presented to 10 city firefighters and officers from other departments in space provided by Amelia Park Ice Arena on Wednesday and Thursday.
Ellis, the department’s training officer, said that the course, which was developed by the National Fire Academy and will be presented by instructors from the Massachusetts Fire Academy, is intended for senior officers who would be in command of an incident involving a structural collapse.
He said that the approach firefighters take in an emergency will vary depending on the type of incident they have to deal with and said that a building collapse is a low frequency type of event so most firefighters have little experience with one.
By staging the workshop, Ellis said, command firefighters will garner a new set of procedures established by national firefighting authorities to deal with an emergency arising from a structural collapse.
He said that the course will cover situations like “who you rescue first depending on how buried they are.”
He said that it is common sense to first remove persons close to the surface of a debris field left by a collapsed building before tunneling to find more deeply buried victims but said that sometimes “common sense goes directly out the window” in the heat of an incident so it is valuable to have procedures established and ready.
The firefighters will be broken into smaller groups, Ellis said, and will be presented with structural collapse problems which they will deal with theoretically with resources specified for the problem.
He also said that a building collapse is usually a major event which “typically is beyond the resources of a local fire department” and explained that the program will inform participants about where needed resources can be found.
Ellis said that the last collapse in the city occurred after a major snowstorm during the winter of 2011 when the roof collapsed at the Martin’s Floor Covering Inc. building on Southampton Road.
“It should be good class”, Ellis said, “it covers a lot of stuff.”

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