The EvansvilleWatch team was invited to take a tour of the Perry Township Fire Department. We gladly accepted their invitation and visited the station on Williams Road in western Vanderburgh County on Sunday afternoon. As you know, a big part of what we do at EW is reporting local incidents as they happen, fire dispatches included. Perry Township Fire Department Lieutenant Chris Gibson is an EW fan and thought it would be a good learning experience for the EW team to see their apparatus, visit some of the crew and watch a couple demonstrations. This tour was the deluxe package and it did not disappoint at all!
The firefighters took us around each truck they have at their station, explained what each vehicle does and let us handle a lot of the equipment they use. The first thing I discovered is you must be in great shape to be a firefighter. Much of the equipment is rather heavy and combined with the bulky gear they wear...well, heavier out of shape guys like me would either get in shape fast or die. LOL
The first demonstration showed how firefighters make entry into a burning structure to rescue someone trapped inside. The firefighters showed us how much force it takes to just break into a locked structure. After entry, they crawled under the imaginary smoke or as low to the floor as possible to safely conduct the search. Once they located the dummy (victim), the 2 firefighters demonstrated how they rescue an unconscious victim and bring them to safety. They did all of this in their full turn-out gear with breathing apparatus on. By the time they were halfway done with the demo you could really hear them breathing hard and sucking in the air through the tanks on their backs. And these guys are in shape! There is a lot of honor and respect out there for firefighters already, but I guarantee you after seeing them in action, even in a demo, your respect for what they do will double. Not only is the physical aspect of the job demanding, but it is important to note the mental aspect of the profession also. We learned the training is never ending and the science of fighting fires is ever evolving with technology.
Another demonstration showed how firefighters climb onto the roof of a structure to ventilate a fire. Using a chainsaw, they make a 4' x 4' hole (2' x 2' for our demo) in the roof to give the dangerous dangerous smoke and toxic air built up inside the burning structure an opening to escape. This makes the interior environment safer for the fire crews battling the blaze and also protects them from the dangers of the dreaded backdraft.
Our group also included a few kids and the Perry Township crew took time to explain fire safety to them. Firefighters look scary and intimidating to kids in all their gear. They told them to never be afraid if they are in a fire, need rescue and see a firefighter. With the fire already scaring them, many kids attempt to hide from it. The appearance of firefighter with all this gear on can add to that fear. They taught them to come to the firefighter, put their arms out and hug them tightly for the rescue. This was very valuable lesson if, God forbid, they are ever faced with a fire in their homes.
Your family, group or organization can also get the same tour and learn the same life-saving lessons we all did. Simply contact Chris on his personal Facebook account (Christopher Gibson) and he will get you set up for the free tour. Perry Township Fire Department also offers first aid and CPR training. There is a charge for these courses, but the cost is minimal. It covers the cost of training materials only and the fire department doesn't make anything off them. If you need first aid and/or CPR training, be sure to contact Chris and the Perry Township Fire Department family. They are more than willing to help you out!
Finally, I want to thank Chris and the entire Perry Township crew for having us out to visit and for the tour. This was an experience that we will never forget. As I mentioned above, we all had a lot of respect for firefighters and all they do before the tour. After watching the demos and taking the tour, that respect has doubled. It takes hard work and constant training to be a firefighter. God bless this dedicated group of men and women. The are trained to walk into situations you and I run from.
P.S. These are only 2 of the many pictures taken from our visit. Go to the 'PICTURES' page on this site to see more!