BAYBORO, SC (WMBF) - V
ery few people will ever know what it's like to be inside a burning building, but firefighters do it every day. On Wednesday, Horry County Fire Rescue gave WMBF News the chance to physically go through an actual live burn with firefighters and experience being inside a burning building first
"This is basically where these guys are going to get the ground-breaking foundation on what they're going to do for the rest of their career," says HCFR Battalion Chief Brian VanAernem.
Before they get started on that career, it's 18 weeks of training. And part of that is going through real-life scenarios in the burn building.
WMBF News joined firefighters at HCFR's main training ground to participate. When you see a firefighter in full gear, they make it seem easy, but the gear alone actually weighs between 40 and 60 pounds.
The burn building is a two-story structure. To start the exercise, WMBF News joined by firefighter officials, piled into a room with hay which was ignited to start the exercise. Then, it came time to watch and experience what it is like to actually be inside a burning building.
The practice was simulated, but the fire was not.
"It's real, the fire's real," says HCFR Captain Michael Norek. "The personnel on scene, we all work with each other, so we're able to build team work, keep that same philosophy of getting the job done safely. Making sure everyone goes home from training and from the real job."
Firefighters told WMBF News it takes so much skill and practice to stay not only physically capable, but mentally as well.
"It lets the guys actually go through the motions of what they do," VanAernam noted. "For instance, when they get to the scene: what to look for, where to pull lines to, what lines to pull, things like that."
The experience firefighters get from this exercise is priceless when your neighbor, or your family needs them. Crews were warned before going in about a loss of senses, you can't feel or see much. But the pros seemed to know exactly what to do because that is how they prepare.
"It's chaotic, it's dark," says Norek. "It's definitely hot and it takes a lot of knowledge, intuition, and training in your back pocket to get you through a lot of situations to make sure you make the right calls and the right decisions."
The simulation is just the beginning. Firefighters train every day for 18 weeks before they are considered ready to take on flames that burn in your community.