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Participants learn fire safety

Participants learn fire safety
In its inaugural session Tuesday evening, participants of the first-ever Martin Fire Department Citizen’s Fire Academy discovered a side to the department’s personnel and responsibilities they never knew existed when it comes to fighting fires.
“Our training is something we take seriously, it all goes back to ‘we all go home,’” MFD Lt. Training Officer Jamie Summers told the participants of the citizen fire academy.
The department’s personnel far exceed the minimum mandate of 40 hours of training each year, according to Summers.
With an ISO rating of four for the City of Martin, which is elite for departments across the state, perspective industries and insurance companies consider low ISO ratings attractive.
Summers said that while constant training and national regulations are of utmost importance to the department, the MFD takes it a step further and implements departmental safety policies.
“You don’t run on the fire ground. Pay attention at all times. Safety goes a long way and there is even a safe method to teach them how to get off and on the trucks,” Summers shared.
After a get-to-know-the-department session, citizen fire academy participants were treated to a science lesson in fire.
“People always say your noses go to sleep, but your ears don’t. That’s why a smoke detector beeps,” Summers shared.
The training officer explained that as heat rises to a ceiling, for example, and begins dropping, the air gets hotter.
“Roll out of bed if you hear your smoke detector going off. Don’t sit straight up in bed. You could risk taking a breath of that super-heated air and it could be fatal,” Summers noted.
Another tip shared by Summers is for homeowners to have at least one fire extinguisher in their home, located in the kitchen or utility room.
Summers said most fires begin in kitchen and an extinguisher is a valuable tool.
When the department arrives on the scene of a structure fire, the first actions that are taken include shutting off gas lines and killing the power source to the structure.  
“If there is a propane tank in the area that isn’t close to the fire, we put a hose on it and keep it cool while trying to fight a fire,” Summers said.
While keeping a watchful eye on the development of a fire to to eliminating back drafts, the scientific aspect of fire fighting serves the department well through their knowledge.
What is fire?
There are three components for creating a fire: fuel, heat and oxygen.
A fire will not burn without oxygen.
Fuel comes in the form of gaseous, solid and liquid.
“If you have ever watched a burning candle, you’ll notice the flame is actually above the wick of the candle. The wick creates a gas and the flame seems to float above the wick,” Summers shared.
The most dangerous fuel is gaseous because it has mass, but no definite shape.
Solids begin to decompose as it is heated giving off combustible vapors. When the fuel of the solids is expended, a fire will typically go out.
Summers presented a video tape of a Christmas tree that had caught fire in an effort to stress how quickly a room can become consumed with a fire.
The tree, with its dried needles, caught fire at the base and within seven seconds, the living room of the home was completely engulfed with smoke and flames during the incident.
Summers said the demonstration was significant of a fully-developed stage of fire.
During a decay stage of fire, there is a potential for back drafts. The signs of back draft potential are inwardly drawn smoke emanating from a structure and gray-yellow puffs of smoke coming from the top of a structure on fire.
Summers said the department will typically enter a burning structure in an attempt to fight the blaze from within. After it appears there is only smoke left in the building, fire fighters will then attack the structure from above in an effort to hinder a back draft, as was the procedure last week when battling a fire on Walters Street in Martin.
“We cut a ventilation hole in the roof, which depressurized the house. It’s safer and easier to do that. Ventilation is a property conservation technique. We cut a hole in a roof, but we don’t cut through the rafters,” Summers explained.
After a lesson in fire science, the participants were issued turnout gear for use throughout the eight-week citizen fire academy.
Editor’s note: The Press will highlight each session every Thursday during the eight-week academy.

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