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August 12, 2014 • Headlines

Local firefighters prepare for the training exercise held in Versailles recently. The Department of Homeland Security sponsored
a mobile live fire unit, which was the size of a tractor-trailer rig and had a simulated kitchen, bed, stairs and a sloped roof.

“So, here I go…” Pick up today’s Osgood Journal at your local newsstand and read page 4
where Mary Mattingly describes her experience inside a live fire training trailer in Versailles recently.

About 50 area firefighters practiced search and rescue skills through the
Homeland Security’s mobile live fire training unit in Versailles at the former Alco parking lot.

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Train to save lives
Firefighters practice skills at mobile live unit

Mary Mattingly

“We've got it cooking now!” Versailles Fire Chief Ben Sieverding tells a group of about 12 firefighters in Versailles Thursday evening. Controlled by sensors, Sieverding amped up the propane on the mobile live fire training trailer so the local volunteer firefighters may experience a more intense fire.

Ben SieverdingBen Sieverding - 2
Pictured left, Versailles Fire Chief Ben Sieverding helps conduct the fire training. He is also the District 9 training coordinator. The mobile live fire training trailer is provided by Indiana Department of Homeland Security.

The more fire experience, real or controlled, the safer and better outcome for the firefighters and public. The Indiana Department of Homeland Security sponsored the mobile trailer, which is the size of a tractor-trailer rig with moveable walls, simulated kitchen, bed, stairs and a sloped roof, and Versailles served as host for District 9. It was staged at the former Alco parking lot last week in Versailles. Some family members attended to get an idea of what their husbands or sons do when they rush out of the house or paid job for a call. It was held Tuesday and Thursday evenings for two hours, and Saturday morning for four hours. Forty-eight firefighters from Rising Sun, Osgood, Batesville, Morris, Vevay, Delaware and Versailles showed up in full gear, ready for on-the-job training.

Daulton Garner was one of them. He was on Milan’s fire department for eight months and is now one of the newest members for Versailles. He was excited to be there Thursday. He has always wanted to be a firefighter since he was a little boy, he said. Red faced and sweaty after experiencing the trailer simulation, he said he learned, “to keep low. It shows you what fire can do even though this is controlled. It gives you a real feel for it.”

Another young firefighter, Alex Brison of Osgood, crawled into the smoke-filled trailer with three others, separated into two groups as a way to maneuver a small space more quickly. That was something he gained from the training, he said afterwards. “This training exercise provided firefighters the opportunity to practice and perfect their skills in real fire conditions, but controlled conditions.

They were working on their search and rescue skills, ventilation skills, and nozzle and fire stream skills. It also gave firefighters more opportunities to work in the Self Contained Breathing Apparatus,” said Chief Sieverding. He is the training coordinator for District 9 training council, made up of 12 counties.

Ron Reynolds Jr. was on hand as an EMT, but he’s also assistant fire chief for Napoleon. Reynolds said they only get a few actual fires a year, so this is good practice particularly for novice volunteers. “This is just a very good learning experience,” Reynolds said. He explained that EMTs always show up at a fire run, mainly to check the firefighters’ vitals and make sure they are okay, he said. Wearing 80 pound equipment in 1300 degree can be hard on a body, no matter what shape you are in, he said. This year, 55 firefighters in the country have died, the most recent being on August 6, in Northern Kentucky and August 5, in LaPorte, Indiana. The majority of firefighters die from a heart attack, according to statistics on the Internet.

Captain Kyle Negangard of Osgood went to the June “train the trainer” session in Greensburg for the mobile trailer, and assisted Sieverding. “It is a controlled environment and gives a student the ability to see a rollover” he said. A rollover is a stage of a structure fire when fire gases in a room ignite. The fire gases rise to the ceiling and this is where the rollover is most often seen. “It gets intense, with heat of 1200 degrees and needs to be cooled,” which is when you turn your hose nozzle, he said. They probably respond to 50 fires a year, some 200 runs, but 75 percent are medical runs, he commented.

The big challenge for firefighters is smoke. More people die from smoke inhalation than flames. Negangard remembers covering his first fire 10 years ago with his brother. “I went up the steps and couldn’t see because the smoke was so black and thick. I thought it was a huge fire! It turned out it was a small fire and we used less than two gallons of water. But, I couldn’t see a foot in front of me due to the smoke.” The fire was caused by a curling iron left on a dresser, he said. (Smoking is the primary cause of fires with heating equipment second.) Firefighters are trained to respond in pairs, stay low, hold on to the hose, and feel your way by the walls and floor. They constantly talk to one another, and if there is no movement for 30 seconds, the PASS (Personal Protective Safety System) automatic alarm attached to their jacket goes off to indicate the possibility of a down or hurt firefighter.

Sieverding was glad so many could experience the training. “I don’t think people realize the amount of time volunteer firefighters spend on training. Not all volunteer fire departments do, but the majority of those in Ripley County do. The certification courses we teach are the same courses career firefighters complete. When a firefighter responds to a call the fire does not know if the firefighter is a volunteer or is getting paid, but the dangers are the same.”

Interested in joining?
Anyone interested in joining the local fire department, can stop by their fire station or call Sieverding at 812-621-1150 and he’ll connect you with the right person.

(812) 10-digit dialing has been delayed

Ripley County has a bit longer before having to switch to dialing 10 digits with the 812 area code. The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission ordered on August 6 that the 7-digit dialing period for the 812 area code overlay remain in effect until otherwise ordered. Previously, the permissive dialing period was scheduled to run through September 5 with mandatory 10-digit dialing beginning September 6. Many received reminder notices recently on their cell phones of the pending change; however, as a result of the IURC’s order, customers can continue using seven digit dialing when making local calls.

Natalie Derrickson, communications with IURC, told Ripley Publishing it would eventually be mandated; however, the IURC became aware of concerns regarding the ability of critical segments of the business community and telecommunications providers to prepare for the switch to mandatory dialing, specifically those serving the medical and law enforcement industry. Derrickson cited one Hoosier alarm business, which offers a medical alert, can only accept 7 digits and needed more time to upgrade its programming. There were other similar businesses with automated services affected.

“With safety being the utmost priority, the IURC has re-opened the record in this proceeding to assure that public health and safety concerns are addressed prior to mandatory 10-digit dialing going into effect,” Derrickson said. It also means that cell users with contact numbers listed without the 812 area code would need to be updated. Derrickson added, “Anything that is local now, will remain local. There is no charge.”

A technical conference to discuss the issues is scheduled for September 3 at the PNC Center in Indianapolis. It is a public meeting.

Pick up this week's edition of the Osgood Journal for the stories below and more local news. Subscribe by clicking the subscribe link or call 812-689-6364.

• Health director resigns
• Read Mary Mattingly's first-hand experience in live fire training: Seeing Through the Smoke (page 4)
• Local graduate on The Weather Channel: Fat Guys in the Woods (Regional Wrap-Up, page 7)

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