As part of the Bainbridge Fire Department’s Fire Academy, participants are currently getting an up close look at how the department operates in fighting fires and responding to emergency calls. It is also an opportunity to see just how their taxes are spent on keeping them safe.
The six-week fire academy is held in the meeting room of the fire station. The idea for the sessions was promoted by Fire Chief Lou Ann Metz. The firefighters had talked of the concept of the academy, similar to one provided by the Bainbridge Police Department, and firefighters Jim Riley and Todd Kirkpatrick took the lead. They are also paramedics.
The purpose is to allow the citizens of Bainbridge to come in and see how their money is spent, Chief Metz said. “They also see the pride we take in the services provided and the equipment. We want to make sure we are good stewards of their money.”
The classes cover a variety of topics, including emergency management activities, CPR, Stop the Bleed, fire suppression and even rides in the fire apparatus.
About 20 percent of the emergency calls made to the township are for fire emergencies, Mr. Riley said, but personnel must constantly train to keep their skills sharp.
The department’s attack pumper and the ladder truck are ready to go for fire calls, he said. “Every morning we check their fuel and have water. It’s the first thing we do every day.”
Last week, he took participants out to the bays, first showing them several vehicles, including the ladder truck. It is used in situations involving high roofs. It was particularly useful when Geauga Lake Park was open and it could be used for rescues from any of the high rides. It is still used in the township’s industrial area and with Marketplace at Four Corners Shopping Center buildings and anywhere else with high buildings.
“This truck gets used for different communities,” Mr. Riley added. “We have mutual aid agreements with surrounding departments.”
Bainbridge has an automatic response agreement with Chagrin Falls Fire Department for use of the ladder truck on its high buildings, including some of the homes.
The ladder truck carries about 300 gallons of water and was not meant to be a water transporter. It will never be the first on scene for a fire attack, Assistant Chief Wayne Burge said.
The ladder truck carries a variety of equipment including hoses and connections, saws to cut holes in roofs and the ladder supplies for chimney fires, which were addressed as well.
Assistant Chief Burge explained the water situation in the township. An area of the township has water hydrants. Where there are no water hydrants, water is drafted from ponds and lakes into the tankers and taken to a fire site. The municipal water supply comes through Bentleyville, he said. It is piped to Washington Street and Knowles Industrial park.
Safety is key for firefighters. Every firefighter has a radio to talk to the others, and if radio contact is lost, the other firefighters check it out, Assistant Chief Burge said.
Firefighters spend about 20 minutes in action on average on a fire in a building, depending on their physical ability. They then come out, rehydrate and are checked by medical staff, Mr. Riley said.
The trucks last for about 25 years. The department currently is replacing its attack engine and the tanker. Trucks are specific to what Bainbridge deals with, Mr. Riley said, as with tankers because of the few water hydrants and the need to draw water from ponds and lakes.
Outside, the firemen demonstrated the use of fire hoses to academy attendees, and each participant had an opportunity to hold the water hose to see what it is like. The distance the water sprays depends on the pressure.
Participant Deborah Orr said of the use of the hose, “It’s awesome.” She noted it would have been harder if there had been even more water pressure.
Dodie Ottman said the hose “was wonderful.” The energy it takes is incredible, she said. “It’s awesome all the things the firemen know,” she added.
Also demonstrated was the method and tools used to force open doors. The department also sells lock boxes to residents for medical emergencies. The boxes hold keys to get into houses so they don’t have to break down and destroy doors, according to Mr. Kirkpatrick.
As to mechanical work, the department is fortunate to have a department member, Captain Bill Measures, who works on the trucks.
Following the tour of the fire trucks, participants sat down to view a video on safety procedures in homes. “Close before you doze,” focuses on closing bedroom doors when sleeping to prevent smoke from overcoming one before waking if there is a fire. “It can mean the difference between life and death,” Mr. Riley said.
In addition, having working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, strategically placed, are critical to one’s survival, he said.
Everyone also had an opportunity to learn about the way furnishings today, made with synthetic materials, burn faster when compared to the cotton materials used in the past.
The next academy will be held in the spring. Check the fire department’s website or call 440-543-9873 for information on the upcoming session.