Mason City Fire Department training for a real emergency: 'Everything burns hotter and faster than it used to'

Utilizing a simulator, Mason City firefighters are getting hands-on experience and practice in the event of a real fire

Posted: Jun 18, 2019 2:34 AM
Updated: Jun 18, 2019 7:26 AM

MASON CITY, Iowa - For the brave men and women who risk their lives daily to battle blazes, it's important to train regularly.

This week, Mason City firefighters are practicing some of the best methods to fight a fire, utilizing a simulator provided through the Fire Service Training Bureau of Ames.

"It's one of those things that if you don't train or forget how to do it, it can be a pretty big deal."

Logan Hoiland is one of the youngest on the department and has been with the brigade for about nine months now.

"Since my crew's been so short, I haven't gotten to see a whole lot yet. It'll be nice to get some training, so when the real thing happens, I know what to do."

Lt. Carl Ginapp has been part of the squad for over 20 years and says throughout his career, there have been a lot of changes in the fire industry, including how quickly a fire can spread.

"A lot of it has to do with modern furniture. A lot of it is foam, which really adds to the fire a lot quicker than the old stuff used to."

And tactics to douse a fire have had to adjust accordingly.

"You don't have much time like you used to. Everything burns hotter and faster than it used to, and it cuts your safety window in half or even less than what it used to when I started."

Ginapp adds that the simulator can give valuable, life-saving training.

"We've been doing these sort of attacks just simulated, but there isn't any fire or any smoke, just pretending. And it doesn't quite do it until you actually feel heat, see a little bit of flame and have that smoke where it blacks it out to where you can't see very far."

He notes that there are a couple of ways you can make sure your home safe.

"Make sure you have working smoke detectors in your home. And it's a good idea to shut the doors when you go to bed. Keep your home compartmentalized so that way if a fire does start, you have a better chance of getting out a window or making an escape without letting the fire spread by keeping the door shut."

According to the Iowa State Fire Marshall, 19 deaths have been reported due to fires so far this year; in Minnesota, the State Fire Marshall reports 37 people died in blazes last year.

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