(Editor’s note: Mr. Slaight’s letter is longer than the 500 words allowed under the newspaper’s policy. Part 1 is below and the second part will appear in Friday’s edition.)
To the editor:
As a 20-year retired firefighter for the Craig Rural Fire Protection District, I am somewhat insulted by the editorial board’s uneducated stance on the proposed training center.
You make a statement that this is not about the firefighters themselves. But by your comments you are saying they do not deserve a place to effectively train as a team and to put their lives on the line to protect all of us without the best training available. This training center is just as important as any other piece of equipment provided to our firefighters.
When I became a rookie in 1986 there was no real structured training classes. We learned from our mistakes and from what senior firefighters tried to teach us. A couple years later we as a younger group of firefighters realized how important training was for the district we protected and more importantly our own safety.
We set out to become firefighter 1 certified. Firefighter certifications are a nationally known and accepted firefighter training curriculum where you learn all aspects of safe, effective firefighting.
As with any training curriculum, this training also has changed through the years as changes in building design, furnishing and other hazards have been built into today's structures. Haz-mat and live fire certification is now part of the firefighter 1 certification.
Firefighting experts were realizing too many firefighters were not prepared to enter a burning building and were not recognizing the phases of fire and the dangers involved with extinguishment.
This building is not just a live fire training building. It is not just a fire tower training building. What it is, is a building where all facets of firefighter training can be achieved.
I hope none of you naysayers think that our firefighters returning home safe to their families is not the number one priority. To have the best chance at that goal they all need the best training available.
When we were rookies, we learned about heat from a burning pile of pallets. We went into a room to find a fire by obscuring our SCBA mask with wax paper and entering a room trying to find a traffic cone that simulated the fire.
Believe me my first entry into a burning building was nothing like what that training was like. Heat forced your face to the floor, you could not see your hand in front of your face and your knees were stuck to the melting carpet.
Our firefighters deserve better training than that. The firefighter 1 curriculum takes almost a year to complete. Rookie firefighters are taught all the necessary aspects of being a firefighter.
Firefighter safety, SCBA, Search and Rescue, fire streams, ladders, ventilation, ropes and knots, and fire behavior to name a few subjects. This building can be used for all of this training and more.
The current fire station is not a proper training facility. Putting ladders against the building tears up the sides, and the roof is not designed to be walked on unnecessarily.
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