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Firefighters sharpen skills during training at house

By Staff | Jun 2, 2020

PHOTO PROVIDED The Captiva Island Fire Control District's crews recently trained at a home on Captiva Drive.

The Captiva Island Fire Control District’s crews recently had another chance to take part in some hands-on, real-life scenario training thanks to an island couple who offered up their residence.

Deputy Fire Chief Paul DeArmond explained that all three shifts took part in a weeklong training in mid-May at the Captiva Drive home of the Dupres. A volunteer Captiva firefighter, who lives adjacent to the couple, had approached his neighbors about maybe letting the team use the house for training.

The couple are renovating the property, with plans to rebuild.

“He (Mr. Dupre) said he’d be happy to let us use it,” DeArmond said.

“It was good training,” he added. “Everybody was there.”

PHOTO PROVIDED The Captiva Island Fire Control District's crews recently trained at a home on Captiva Drive.

According to DeArmond, the house was smaller than another one that the crews trained at back in March, however, they were still able to run through most of the same exercises – plus some new ones. One of the training exercises that the crews conducted again were primary and secondary searches.

He previously explained that the search exercises are usually done blindfolded in the bay at the fire station, but the layout becomes familiar over time. So training in unknown spaces sharpens their skills.

“We also got to breach some flooring,” DeArmond said.

He explained that the home had tongue-and-groove wood flooring, compared to the more common concrete floors. With the house built above the ground, the crews had to get through the flooring as if there was an electrical fire underneath. They had to peel up the wood and breach the cypress below.

“So they had to break through both levels of flooring,” DeArmond said.

Another exercise they were able to conduct that was unique to the house was water training. He explained that the couple was keeping their pool up and running throughout the construction.

“We practiced a firefighter falling into the pool with his whole gear on,” DeArmond said, noting that a crew member’s full gear typically adds on anywhere from 50 pounds to 70 pounds of extra weight.

“It definitely puts a lot of extra weight on the body,” he added.

They practiced staying afloat for five to seven minutes, while also remaining calm.

“We also practiced retrieving them out of the water,” DeArmond said.

During the water training, some passersby stopped and asked about what the crews were doing.

“It may look like they were playing, but it was training,” he said.

DeArmond explained that while these training opportunities do not involve actual fire or heat – they do use a smoke machine when able – they are as close to real-life situations as the team can get.

“You can’t get more realistic than what we had,” he said.

And hands-on, real-life scenario training better prepares them for when the actual call comes in.

The district extended its appreciation to the Dupres for letting it use their residence.

Anyone interested in donating an island structure for use for training can contact the Captiva fire station at 239-472-9494. There is some paperwork involved, but the district will take care of it.