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Cazenovia firefighters train for worst-case scenarios

— When Cazenovia Fire Department volunteer firefighters went into the first floor of a burning house in Fenner on March 12, they did so in full gear, including respirators and air tanks, with fire tools in their hands, ready to battle whatever came their way. The fire that started in the chimney and was whipped into a frenzy by 25-mile-per-hour winds ultimately engulfed the roof and attic, making the structure unstable and forcing a firefighter evacuation and an “exterior attack” with water hoses.

Although the Cazenovia firefighters — with mutual aid assistance from Erieville, Morrisville, Smithfield, New Woodstock, Lincoln, Chittenango Manlius fire departments — were unable to battle the blaze from inside the house, when they went in they were trained, capable and prepared to do their job — the payoff of the department’s constant drilling and training of its members, according to CFD Chief Nick Enders.

One such instructional exercise occurred last Wednesday, March 19, when 18 department volunteer members went through Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (air-packs) training while completing an obstacle course set up inside the department’s truck bay.

“We’re trying to imitate scenarios that we may encounter inside a structure,” Enders said. “This also allows the officers to see what the guys are capable of and where they may need some further training.”

The course, which the firefighters traversed on hands and knees, forced them to fight through an entanglement simulator (crawling through a wood structure with wires and strings hanging down as if a ceiling had collapsed); removing their air tanks and pushing them through a small tunnel space; crawling over and under the beams of a wooden ceiling frame; going up and down ladders; properly “breaching” through wall studs (if the room is on fire, the exit is blocked and firefighters must go through a wall to escape); and dragging a rescue dummy about 25 feet to safety.

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