Using the help of some local boy scouts, firefighters turned the high rise from an empty building to a make believe burning enferno. The idea was brought about to train using high rise techniques and using thermal imaging cameras. Jason Calder spent the night watching them train and has more.
Tuesday night was a calm summer night but not for San Angelo Firefighters. For them it was all about training in a tall building, using thermal imaging equipment.
Training Captain Fred Barnett said, "One of our lieutenants at Station 7 approached me about using a thermal camera and so being Station 7 is closest to Angelo State, we kinda put two and two together and decided we would work with the thermal imaging cameras with all the guys."
However before they could start training, they needed a situation.
"This is a summer camp and we've got a reported fire on a particular floor. We've got two or three or five kids unaccounted for," said Barnett.
Crews from fire stations around the city rushed up several flights of stairs and crawled through dorm rooms looking for missing campers. Luckily it was all for the sake of getting experience and training for if and when a situation like this could happen.
Captain Curtis Hensley said, "You know practice makes perfect so you know if you're going to be on the team you've gotta practice."
Training Captain Fred Barnett said it was necessary for the men to train in the dark so they could use the Thermal Imaging Cameras.
Barnett said, "If there's any daylight then they don't rely on the camera. They can look and see where they are going. By 9:30 this place will be completely black and they won't see anything except what they can see with their cameras and flashlight."
Firefighters like Captains Terry Stinnett and Curtis Hensley said the training was great.
Stinnett said, "If anything they learned how hard it is, you know, high rise training."
Hensley added, "Years ago we didn't have this. It was just you go in and search using just your hands and your feeling method. You couldn't see through the smoke. Now with the cameras you can cut through the smoke and go to the victims a lot of times."
Even though there are not a lot of high rise fires in San Angelo, Hensley said the basic knowledge of the training can be adapted to any situation.
He said, "It doesn't matter whether it's a high rise fire or just a one house, one story flat fire. I mean it doesn't make any difference. When you gotta search for somebody, if you've got that thermal camera and know how to use it, it makes it a lot easier to find the victim. Seconds count when you're trying to find someone inside a building."
And as he puts it, the training is beneficial to more than just the firefighters.
"This is beneficial for firefighters as well as the citizens of San Angelo. So everyone is going to benefit from it, " said Hensley.
Overall, the training was just another chance for firefighters to better protect the city and its citizens. The night time training will continue Wednesday and Thursday night. 40 to 45 firefighters are expected to go through the scenario each night. Training officials expect to continue this training in the future.