Reporters, business leaders, council members as firefighters - KCTV5 News

Reporters, business leaders, City Council members experience life as a firefighter

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Annie Snider/KCTV Annie Snider/KCTV

It's called Fire Ops 101, and it's a class put on by the Kansas City Fire Department and the firefighter's union to show people what it's like to make a living fighting fires.

The fire department invited 12 regular people to come out and train like firefighters, and after eight hours of training, KCTV5's Justin Schmidt admits he had no idea what he was getting into.

"If we don't get things done quickly, someone's probably going to die," Battalion Chief Tom Byrne said.

"I think it's important for the public to know the bang for their buck they get when they do have to dial 911," said firefighter with Truck 13 Matt Stigall.

The Kansas City Fire Department and the firefighters union wanted to show people what it means to be a firefighter. Reporters, business leaders and City Council members suited up alongside firefighters to demonstrate how tough they train.

"The level of training that we have makes us capable of doing extraordinary things in the worst situations. The training is the backbone of that. It allows us to rescue you and offer medical assistance at the worst possible times," Stigall said.

Participants rode along on an EMT call regarding a patient suffering from a heart problem, they rescued a victim trapped in a high rise, cut open a car to extract an injured driver and went into a live house fire.

Everything was very controlled to keep the amateurs safe, but the pros have seen it all.

"Some of the situations are a lot more dynamic than we need to deal with. A lot of times the people we rescue are in a state of mind that is difficult to deal with," said Capt. Larry Young with Rescue 9.

But the officials train on that too.

"Sometimes we'll have victims act a certain way so guys can mitigate that, learn to deal with certain victims so they don't have to deal with that for the first time during the real thing," Young said.

Participants also learned firsthand the difference a fourth fighter makes on a fire truck.

"When you guys pulled in today, we drop a guy off at the fire hydrant, we have the guy driving the apparatus and pumping the water, so that leaves the captain on a three-man pumper company. For the captain to be able to move that hose inside a fire really is impossible, as you guys found out. Having that fourth guy to advance that hose to the scene is critical," Byrne said.

Participants also learned just how much work the firefighters do.

"You can understand depending on the weather it makes it more exhaustive. The more repetition of the skills we have, the easier it becomes. The better technique we have, obviously the better you get at it and the easier the skill is," firefighter Matthew Black said.

KCTV5's Schmidt said after an exhausting eight hours in a firefighter's boots, all 12 of the participants, including himself, left with a different perspective of the KCFD.

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