Final testing day
by David Hull, Chief
North Tongass Volunteer Fire Department
January 17, 2005
Ketchikan, Alaska - If you were to stop by at Station 2 on Saturday
the 8th, you would have thought the world was coming to an end.
There were people gathered in a room frantically going over notes
and practicing skills, others were struggling to get into their
protective clothing and breathing air packs, still others could
be seen tying knots and hoisting tools with ropes or sitting
in a cramped trailer answering questions about smoke detectors
and carbon monoxide detectors.
North Tongass Volunteer
Fire Department Firefighter I Class
(back row) Jessica Freeman, Stacy Francis, Britney Freeman from
the South Tongass Volunteer Fire Department -- (middle row, standing
from left) Steve Phillips, Scott Hildebrandt, Jerry Kiffer (NTVFD),
Brian Short (Ketchikan Fire Department) Jack Rodgers (NTVFD)
Chris Nunamaker (USCG), John Goucher (Instructor, KFD) -- (front
row, knelling from left) David Monean, Gretchen Skillings (NTVFD),
Greg Cook (STVFD), Cathy Tighe, Paul Hook, Wendy Mackie (NTVFD).
Photo courtesy NTVFD
Outside in the frigid temperatures you would have found firefighters
putting ladders up against buildings, and a fire in a small room
that just did not appear to go out. Time and again, the firefighters
would rush in with charged hose in hands, only to back out and
turn the hose over to another firefighter for their turn at the
stubborn fire all the while watched closely by an other firefighter
writing notes on a clip board. Finally when all seemed lost,
as the last of the firefighters had their chance, the fire was
finally extinguished. What in the world was going on?
What was going on was the final
testing day of a firefighting class that started on October 5,
2004. The class was taught under strict national standards and
the students will receive a State of Alaska Firefighter I certification
recognized by the International Fire Service Accreditation Congress
(IFSAC). The class was an extensive, well delivered class that
introduces the basics of firefighting skills and stresses the
significance of safety on the emergency scene. John Goucher,
with over 20 years of firefighting experience with Ketchikan
Fire Department, was the lead instructor for the course. Students
of the class were members of the all three island fire departments
and the US Coast Guard and included both experienced and first
Wendy Mackie (in front)
being tested by Frank Divelbiss in the burn room at Station 2.
Photo courtesy NTVFD
As with any effort of this type, there are many people that need
to be thanked. Chief Rich Liepfert of the Ketchikan Fire Department
and Chief Scott Davis, former Chief of the South Tongass Volunteer
Fire Department, need to be thanked for their support and use
of their fire stations and equipment for portions of the class.
Thank you to Ken Montero, Terry Roberts, Warren Lee, Frank Divelbiss,
Tracy Mettler, Scott Davis, John Wyle, Gaylen Brevik of Castle
Rock Firefighting Consulting and a big thanks to Assistant Chief
Jim Hill. Special thanks go out to Mr. Ray Perin and all the
NTVFD staff who participated in the training burn on December
11, 2004 next to Lighthouse Grocery.
All in all it was an extensive
effort put forth by everyone involved. It also is an example
of the value of all the fire departments working together toward
a common goal. This goal was best exhibited in the outstanding
group effort Wednesday, January 5th as firefighters responded
to a house fire at 4742 North Tongass Highway. A tough fire was
extinguished by a tough group of firefighters from all three
departments, an example of the value of training together.
An Assistance to Firefighters
FEMA grant paid for the class.
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