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Monday, March 11, 2013

Station Life: Sunday Training

Station Life: Why did I see all the fire trucks together, but there didn’t seem to be an emergency? You may have seen Brentwood Fire and Rescue’s fire trucks gathered together at the library, or possibly at Fire Station 2 on Wilson Pike and wondered what they were doing together when there didn’t seem to be an emergency. Brentwood Firefighters are required to spend a minimum of two hours every shift training. Sometimes the training requires all on duty firefighters to be present to ensure that everyone is able to work together in the event of an actual emergency. Station 2 and the library are centrally located, ensuring that no one apparatus is too far out of their area of operation. 

Now, you might think that a Sunday morning would be a great time for a firefighter to kick back in a recliner and settle in for an afternoon of watching sports since Sunday mornings are statistically slow times for emergencies in Brentwood. Instead, Sundays are an ideal time for firefighters to gather and train. Sometimes this training is classroom or tabletop based, and sometimes it involves hands on, practical evolutions. Recently, one of the shifts gathered for hazardous materials, or hazmat, training.

Not too long ago most of the department attended outside training in hazmat that focused on a different way of looking at these types of emergencies, and Sunday morning made for an opportune time to keep those new skills sharp. Fire Station 2 is set up to allow participants to gather around and view presentations and videos on a display monitor as well as utilize more traditional teaching methods such as a dry erase board. Everyone is encouraged to play an active role as scenarios evolve and mock incidents are mitigated.


Knowing what to do at a hazardous materials incident is only half the training. Firefighters also broke out a few of the tools of their trade to ensure that if an actual emergency occurred, they would be prepared to handle it. Brentwood Fire and Rescue keeps a Geiger counter, used to monitor radiation levels, on Car 3. This tool is vital for determining danger in the case of a radiological emergency such as an overturned shipping container or a bomb detonation.

 Firefighters get hands on time with a Geiger counter

Once everyone had re-familiarized themselves with the Geiger counter, the gas monitor was passed around as well. This device allows firefighters to monitor several different conditions in the air around them such as oxygen levels, carbon monoxide levels and whether or not at atmosphere is explosive. The information provided by the gas monitor tells a firefighter when it is safe to take off their SCBA, or if an area is dangerous enough that they need to leave.