"Assuming emergency training now," a Nacogdoches fire department supervisor says over the radio to central dispatch. It's the start of emergency training in an empty parking garage at Stephen F. Austin State University.
"Right now we're just going to do a walk thru," explains Captain Shawn Dillon to a group of firefighters. He's the instructor for the day's lesson. Captain Dillon knows why the drill is so important.
"We have a potential for a major disaster in here because it holds at least 500 cars and they're all real close together, so if one catches on fire in the middle it's going to set five of them on fire before we ever get here."
The four level garage is empty today during the SFA summer break. It's a perfect opportunity for firefighters to prepare for a multi level emergency.
Pre incident planning helps prevent a blaze from spreading to nearby dorms and businesses, even if it means lugging over hundred pounds in gear and tools up four flights of stairs.
"It's not too bad," said one confident firefighter as he began to climb the stairs. An elevator is available, but not necessary for these fit firefighters. No corners are cut during training.
Their familiarization with stand pipes is crucial. One man turns the squeaky pipe valve.
"It is a dry pipe system meaning it doesn't have any water in it," said Dillon. Water is pumped in from ground hydrants, controlled at pumper trucks at street level. The sound of rushing water filling up the firefighting hose is heard.
"440 we've got both lines open," conveyed Dillon by two way radio to the pumper operators. Then he gets back to his lesson plan. Repeatedly, firefighters are reminded to plan ahead.
"Just think about your distance, you know. If you got to go to the middle of this thing make sure you bring enough hose with you the first time," advised Dillon.
Most all fire departments offer similar preparation opportunities to business and homeowners
"It's so we have an idea how the building is laid out and what kind of hazards are in there," said Captain Sean Black.
Firefighters live by safety and preparation. Sunday another company will go through the same training. It's all in a day's work.
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