(Kitsap County) Firefighters often respond medical emergencies, fires, and car collisions but calls for structural collapses, such as those that occur after an earthquake, are less frequent and require highly specialized skills and equipment. Until recently, most fire departments in Kitsap County had to improvise or make due with limited technical rescue equipment and training. Now, however, a FEMA sponsored regional technical rescue team coordinated by Bainbridge Island Fire Department and with assistance from the Kitsap County Department of Emergency Management (DEM) has brought the fire departments together to improve their “interoperability” and effectiveness.
Three personnel from South Kitsap Fire and Rescue, North Kitsap Fire and Rescue, Poulsbo Fire Department, Central Kitsap Fire and Rescue, and Bremerton Fire Department have all been acquiring the specialized training. These personnel will be added to the FEMA regional 2 Technical Rescue Team which consists of two teams based in Kitsap and Clallam County. They, in turn, will return to their home departments and train their own personnel. Navy Region Northwest has their own technical rescue team but is actively participating with the development and coordination of this team.
Capping an effort launched two years ago, a six day Advanced Rescue Systems 1 and 2 class is being held May 4 through 8, at Bainbridge Island St. 23 and May 9th at the Kitsap County Readiness Center, 911 Carver St W, Bremerton, WA 98312, (360) 307-5800. “This is really a culmination of two year’s worth of planning involving two regions, Kitsap County and Clallam County. We are streamlining efficiencies to provide the best level of service.” said Bainbridge Island Fire Department Training Officer Dave Dilley.
These personnel have attended a total of five classes for over 200 hours of specialized training in areas such as; confined space, trench and rope rescue. In order to stay proficient in their skills they attend a skills drill every month and a full day exercise once a quarter. They also train on their own to maintain their skills. Because the Kitsap County Fire Chiefs identified and put the resources toward mitigating Technical Rescue incidents, it has been a model program of how the departments in Kitsap County can work together.
Media interested in photographing the various rescue activities will find the best opportunities on Saturday, May 9. For further information, contact Jody Matson 360 779-3997.
Captions for photos: Technical rescue skills and equipment are utilized in particularly dangerous situations such as confined space, trench, structural collapses and steep vertical inclines.
Ropes: A firefighter repels a building to recue a victim stranded on a ledge.
Raker System: Firefighters secure supports to stabilize a wall.
Lifting: Firefighters secure supports as a large concrete block is lifted.
Breaching: Firefighters cut through solid concrete material.