By: Erin Smith
The modern age of firefighting encompasses more than just responding to fire calls. The modern fire service now encompasses first responder calls and the occasional rescue call. The members of the Elizabethtown Fire Department are always looking for ways they can improve the quality of service they provide to their citizens.
Elizabethtown Fire Chief Nick West said, that in keeping with being proactive, the department has scheduled a technical rescue training program to take place from July through September. The instructor for the course will be Chief Calvin Bishop.
Lt. Hollis Freeman said the course will run about 108 hours for the technical rescue course and about 48 hours for the vehicle rescue course. Chief West said it is a big commitment for the members who wish to pursue the certification.
“We are extending this opportunity throughout the county and to our neighboring counties,” said Chief West.
Chief West said that with the new Engine 55, the truck will not have firefighting capabilities but it will also have rescue capabilities. He said the members of the department have decided to achieve state certification in medium rescue. West said North Carolina has three levels of rescue –heavy rescue, medium rescue and light duty.
For example, the City of Lumberton has a heavy rescue designation, but Chief West in Elizabethtown, the department is seeking to achieve a level of certification that is both attainable and reasonable for the fire district. That is why the department is preparing to seek certification at the medium rescue level.
Chief West said the department has evaluated the district it serves and has determined what the most likely scenarios for rescue might be including such things as farm machinery-type accidents and high angle rescues.
Chief West said the department has run rescue calls in the past in conjunction with Elizabethtown Rescue.
To achieve certification with the state as a medium rescue department, Chief West said that the department must have the necessary equipment and the personnel. Deputy Chief Jamie Smith said currently there are 10 members who currently have what is called a Technical Rescue certification.
Chief West said that the department is gearing up to offer a technical rescue training program which will begin in July and will include such topics as high and low angle rescue, rigging, knot typing, and motor vehicle rescue, helicopter transport, and rope basics.
Chief West said the department is planning to utilize the Brown’s Creek Nature Trail and Bike Park for the high angle and low angel rescue training.
“We’re excited because with our new engine, we’ll be able to purchase new equipment and achieve the medium rescue certification,” said Chief West.
He said in addition to having trained personnel, to achieve the certification equipment is also important. Chief West said state inspectors with the NC Rescue Association will inspect the trucks and equipment as well as well verifying the certification and training of personnel.
Chief West said with the medium rescue certification, the department will be eligible for additional grant funding as well.
“We want to have our personnel and equipment to meet the needs we feel we have in our district. We think the medium level rescue will meet our needs,” said Chief West.