Mt Pleasant News

Wash Journal   Fairfield Ledger
Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 18, 2018

MP firefighters train in controlled setting

May 04, 2018
Photo by: Karyn Spory Half a dozen volunteer firefighters completed their training course on Tuesday, May 1 as they put out multiple fires in the Fire Service Training Bureau’s traveling trailer. The training center provided real-life experience in a controlled setting. Above, Fire Service Training Bureau instructor Doug Kolkman gives directions to recruits working to obtain their certification.

By Karyn Spory, Mt. Pleasant News


Under the shelter of the Wright Family Pavilion in McMillan Park half a dozen men stepped into their gear, ready to become fully-fledged firefighters by battling two different types of blazes in a traveling trailer designed to simulate house fires.

Doug Kolkman, a member of the Yarmouth Fire Department and an instructor with the Fire Service Training Bureau, said Tuesday night’s training was “icing on the cake” for these soon-to-be firefighters. The firefighters were finishing up their level one training course, which began in February.

Throughout the course, new firefighters learn the history of the fire service, how to determine the cause of the fire and everything in between. The courses were held in Houghton twice a week and had firefighters from Houghton, Stockport, Montrose, Mediapolis, Salem, Farmington and Mt. Pleasant.

According to state code, individuals do not have to be certified to become a volunteer firefighter, but they must be trained to the National Fire Prevention Agency 1001 standard. This course, Kolkman says, meets both requirements for the standard as well as certification, which is a requirement to be a member of Mt. Pleasant’s Volunteer Fire Department.

At 6 p.m., the new recruits suited up, and walked toward the red trailer, parked behind the pavilion on the Old Threshers grounds, which expands to two stories via hydrolics. The trainers, Kolkman, Bruce McAvoy and Matt Anderson rounded up the firefighters to discuss the task at hand. “We do a 360 walk around of the environment before sending them in,” Kolkman said of the training. “We don’t want there to be any surprises.”

The firefighters would do two evolutions Tuesday night. The first had the trainees climb a ladder, fully dressed in their gear, onto the top of the trailer. From there the six men split up into two groups, each with an instructor in tow. The first group descended into the trailer by a stairwell on the second story. This, Kolkman said, simulated going into the basement of a home. The group would work together to extinguish the fire from within the structure and then find their way back out. The interior of the trailer was engulfed in flames, thanks to various LP lines within the trailer that simulate different forms of flames firefighters will inevitably encounter. The group had to navigate the layout of the trailer, which features metal furniture to help make the training as real as possible.

The second group stayed on top of the trailer, guiding the hose into the structure and providing support.

The second evolution was called a transitional training. The firefighters started outside of the structure. They attempted to douse the fire with water through an open window, allowing for the flames to dissipate before sending a group into the structure.

“This is as safe of an environment we can make for our firefighters to train,” said Kolkman. “If something goes wrong we can shut it down immediately.”

“It gives you a good idea what it’s like; it gives you a sensation of the heat and how dark it is,” said veteran Mt. Pleasant fireman Ben Calhoun.

Calhoun said besides the training trailer, which is furnished by the Fire Safety Training Bureau and paid for by the Volunteer Training Fund, the city’s department also has a real building to train in, the old treatment plant. Calhoun added that training like this is not only important for new recruits, but for veteran firefighters because although Mt. Pleasant doesn’t have that many fires, when the time comes having honed those skills is important. “Everyone’s safety is our number one concern. We want everyone to go home.”

Propane for the trailer was furnished by B&B Propane.

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