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On Saturday morning at 7:00 a.m. on April 30, 2005, elements of the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department went "out of service" to conduct "live fire training" at the Middletown Township Volunteer Fire Department Training Academy.
The communitys coverage was augmented by the Wood-Ridge Fire Department, until the HHFD returned at 3:00 p.m.
About a third of the department participated and traveled to the Academy with Engine #2, Rescue, EMS #2 and the Second Assistant Chiefs SUV.
Once on location, the department connected to a hydrant, set up hoses, put on turn-out gear, prepared the necessary equipment.
Middletown Academy trainers provided a walk through orientation of the smoke house. The Academy burns Class "A" materials in the smoke house to provide as close to realistic environment as possible to train firefighters for real-life, high temperature fires in smoke filled environments.
The concrete block "smokehouse" facilitates multiple companies working together under both light and heavy smoke and fire conditions and has two sections with a bi-level single family dwelling mockup on one side, and a split ranch single family dwelling on the other side both full basement, plus a garage with automobile.
Training was focused establishing command, setting up multiple teams, putting out fires, search & rescue, etc. During the day-long drill, trainers set several fires in rapid succession. As soon as one fire was extinguished, another was set. Occasionally, several fires were going at the same time.
Senior firefighters got practice performing the "command" position. All firefighters rotated on one of two teams -- for search and rescue and to extinguish the blaze.
Senior department members critiqued each session, offered operational tips for better safety and performance. Middletown trainers would take Heights firefighters back into the structure to review specifics.
Trainers closely monitored each firefighter during each exercise, to insure personal safety, that correct procedures were executed, and that the training objectives were being met.
Probationary and junior department members in red helmets were not permitted in the burning building, but got lots of support experience by replacing firefighters Scott Air Packs on the fly, dragging hoses, getting tools, etc. Junior members were only allowed to tour inside the structure when all fires were extinguished.
The training was so active, that the HHFD consumed its inventory of the compressed air used in the Scott Packs. The Academy re-charged the air tanks so that the training could continue.
Fire Academy is certified by the NJ Division of Fire Safety, and provides comprehensive
firematic training for firefighters in New Jersey. Middletown Township Fire Department is
the worlds largest volunteer fire department with 11 companies and about 600
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