Go inside the special drill that firefighters use to survive - KCTV5

Go inside the special drill that firefighters use to survive

Updated:
There is nothing easy about the Pittsburgh Drill. Sands invited KCTV5 News anchor Brad Stephens to put on firefighter gear and go through the drill himself to see first-hand what it's like. (KCTV5) There is nothing easy about the Pittsburgh Drill. Sands invited KCTV5 News anchor Brad Stephens to put on firefighter gear and go through the drill himself to see first-hand what it's like. (KCTV5)
SHAWNEE, KS (KCTV) -

In 1995, three Pittsburgh firefighters were killed battling a house fire that collapsed in on them. They became trapped and died when their air supplies ran out.

That deadly fire haunted investigators, and they were determined to make a difference.

After studying what happened they created what's called the Pittsburgh Drill which is now used to train firefighters across the country.

Although Ethan Gilkey and Ryan Rivera have only been firefighters in Shawnee for a few months, they've already been through the Pittsburgh Drill nine times.

Shawnee Fire Marshal Corey Sands says it's an intense obstacle course that puts you in incredibly tight spaces and situations that seem nearly impossible to overcome.

"It is nerve-wracking. I don't think that the movies or TV shows really do the fire service justice. They show that firefighters can run through a house and they don't need an air mask, where in reality the fires are so violent, so fast and you can't see your hand in front of your face," Sands said.

In this drill, firefighters learn the battle-tested skills they'll need if they ever have to search a burning building for people trapped inside.

Gilkey says this training is essential to their safety.

"That way if something does happen and we are in a sticky situation, it's just second nature at that point. We're comfortable in our gear," Sands said.

Sands agrees.  

"When the alarms ring and we're running out these doors to go to a fire, this is where the training kicks in," Sands said.

Sands said with the Pittsburgh Drill, they're put in situations that might seem impossible to get out of. But even as their adrenaline surges, Gilkey says they're taught to slow down.

"If you get in a weird situation close your eyes, because if you can see it and you're freaking out. But if you just close your eyes and relax and take a deep breath, you're able to get it through it a little easier," he said.

There is nothing easy about the Pittsburgh Drill. Sands invited KCTV5 News anchor Brad Stephens to put on firefighter gear and go through the drill himself to see first-hand what it's like.

Stephens' first observation was the equipment is heavy and bulky, making it hard to move quickly. He didn't make it through the drill as quickly or nimbly as the two Shawnee firefighters, but he did successfully maneuver the obstacle course.

Afterward, a completely exhausted Stephens admits that it's harder than it looks.

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