Inside the Hot Zone: Training with the Fargo Fire Department PART I

A house fire can be devastating and dangerous and when the flames start blazing, the Fargo Fire Department jumps into action.

Putting out a fire isn’t just as easy as showing up and spraying water at it.

There are plenty of steps and safety precautions in place to make sure firefighters, as well as victims get out safely.

It all starts with the call from dispatch.

For me, getting ready for a fire and having no training, this process takes me almost 15 minutes.

But trained firefighters have only two minutes to put on almost 80 pounds of gear.

“Whoever calls the fire in will often have some information like there are people inside or there are no people inside,” says Battalion Chief Bruce Anderson.

If there are people inside the building, that becomes the number one priority.

Visibility can be so bad, often times the fire itself…can’t be seen.

“It’s going to be much hotter in a real fire because plastics are going to be burning. You’re not going to be able to see things like we saw up there….we’ll just feel the heat and it’s all because of the materials that are burning,” says Captain Clark Dietz.

Low visibility in the building can mean firefighters don’t actually see the victim until they’ve been pulled out.

“Yeah you often don’t see the fire until you’re right on top of it but you can feel the heat a lot of times. You know you go past the doorway and all of the sudden it’ll get really hot on the right side or really hot on the left side and that might tell you that the fire is in that room,” says Chief  Anderson.

Once the fire is out…the job is far from over.

The building can fill with smoke and water vapor, further limiting visibility.

Ventilation fans can help but some situations force firefighters to depend on their instincts to find their way out.

“It’s difficult. It’s just relying on your buddy next to you and knowing what you’re looking for. If you feel a wall and follow that wall you should be able to find your way out,” says Captain Dietz.

After everyone’s out and safe it’s just a matter of cleaning up and resting.

All in a day’s work.

Now in an actual fire situation firefighters say there are a million unknowns.

This is a controlled burn.

That is a pretty safe situation but simulations like these make sure that firefighters are as well trained as they can be.