Our Opinion: Fire training strengthens safety net

When emergencies arise, training matters.

During the next several days, an estimated 550 firefighters will respond to simulated emergencies in Jefferson City, as the community again hosts the annual Summer Fire School presented by the University of Missouri Fire and Training Institute.

These exercises are not for the faint of heart. The training requires firefighters to participate in swift water rescues, respond to downed aircrafts, navigate confined spaces and protect property from wildfires.

Participating firefighters representing 15 states began classroom and outdoor training Wednesday and will continue through Sunday.

An addition to the training tools this year is a semi-trailer that simulates life-threatening situations for firefighters, according to Tracy Gray, special program assistant. Gray called the simulator “a piece of equipment that can help train firefighters to recognize signs of when they need to get out of a dangerous fire situation.”

Gray also said this year’s school will revive confined-space training, “something we haven’t done in a while.” The training is “designed for getting to people working in areas that have to crawl through small openings, like utility workers, and can’t extricate themselves.”

Much of the training will take place at the local department’s training facility at Hyde Park. The public is invited to watch, including Saturday’s session involving an aircraft fire training simulator.

The training sessions are thrilling to watch and the school provides an economic boost to our community.

More important, however, are the lessons the firefighters bring home. The training helps them respond to chaos and danger with calm, potentially life-saving decisions and actions.

What firefighters learn here this week will have lasting, wide-ranging public safety benefits.


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