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Westport Officials Spend A Day Taking On The Tasks Of Town Firefighters

Westport town officials learn how to extricate a victim from a car crash. Photo Credit: Westport Fire Department
Elected town officials spend a day training as Westport firefighters. Photo Credit: Westport Fire Department

WESTPORT, Conn. — “Walking a day in their shoes” took on a new meaning for town of Westport elected officials Saturday as the took part in the Westport Fire Fighters Fire OPS 101.

For a good part of the day, two members of the Board of Finance and four members of the RTM traded their normal weekend clothes for firefighting gear for the drill, said Westport Fire Chief Andrew Kingsbury. This program includes hands-on firefighting and rescue operations under controlled supervision of Westport’s professional firefighters. Participants learned exactly how challenging it is to keep our communities safe, Kingsbury said.

The five “recruits” started their day in the training room at fire headquarters as firefighter and Local 1081 President Nick Marsan described what their day would be like, from the turnout gear they would be wearing for most of the day, to the current staffing, responses and responsibilities of the town’s fire department.

Once the recruits had donned their firefighting gear, they were ushered outside to a waiting van that transported them to the training house on Greens Farms Road, a house slated for demolition. It was donated by a local builder to allow firefighters to experience realistic training scenarios.

The six recruits were put through three evolutions:

  • search and rescue, which included the rescue of two occupants from the smoke-filled house,
  • hose line advancement for fire control, and
  • a vehicle extrication evolution that entailed use of hydraulic rescue tools as well as hand tools.
Each participant learned how to use self-contained breathing apparatus, essential to breathing in heavy smoke; the benefits of using a thermal imaging camera, which detects heat to search for victims inside a structure; and just how challenging it is to operate in zero visibility, Kingsbury said.

By the end of the day and after a short break for lunch, the six board members had a better understanding of the roles and responsibilities of Westport firefighters and the varied types of emergencies handled by firefighters on a daily basis, Kingsbury said.

First Selectman James Marpe also attended the drill as did family members of participating board members.

"We would like to congratulate all of our participants for taking time out of their busy schedules to be a part of this valuable experience and also extend appreciation to all of the professional firefighters who spent their time organizing and delivering a great program," Kingsbury said.

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