MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - During week 6, Mobile Fire Department's Citizen Academy students learned about CERT, technical rescue, Urban Search and Rescue and much more. Participants will also get to experience hands-on demonstrations of search cameras, air bags, and extrication using the "Jaws of Life."
During part one of the class, students learned about hazardous material response. FOX10 News Reporter Michael Brannon suited up and experienced first-hand what it's like to be in a hazardous material situation.
Several steps are involved. First you must remove your shoes. Then put on the Tyvek suit. After that, on go the medial gloves. After you put on your oxygen tank and slip your hands and feet inside the Level A suit, you get taped up around your wrists and ankles to ensure safety. Don't forget the radio. That's in there too.
"Anytime there is a chemical danger release, whether it's vapors, liquid, or whatever the case may be, the suits come into place so the guys can go in and mitigate whatever is going on with that leak," said Steve Huffman of the Mobile Fire Rescue Department.
Huffman said these suits are rated by hazard. The suit: a Level A suit – a fully encompassing suit in which nothing can enter or escape.
But that was just the beginning of the day. After learning about Haz-Mat, it was time to play with some power tools.
When it comes to extracting a victim from a wrecked vehicle, the fire department brings in the "Jaws of Life."
The "Jaws" are used extreme situations when someone is trapped in a car and cannot physically get out. They are powered by a generator on scene. And when it comes to breaking glass, you have to hit it just right.
"Everybody thinks that glass breaks easy," said Huffman. "And it does not break easy as you found out today. It takes some knowhow. It takes some skills to get this glass broken. And even these guys who do it every day can have difficulty in breaking them open. And what we use is a little punch tool. You force it up against it, push the button, and it breaks the glass and you can easily take it out. You have to know your tools. There are different tools they use to do cutting, spreading the doors, taking them off the hinges, that type of thing. They can pretty much take the car down to the bare minimum if they need to."
Special operations on the Mobile Fire Rescue Department are much more than just fighting a fire. They are jobs that are just as important…all with a common purpose: to save lives.
Members of the media are participating in the 10-week-long event learning the ins and outs of becoming a firefighter.
Next week, students will get a ride on the fire boat up and down Mobile River.
If you would like to sign up for the next Citizen's Academy, click here .
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