Area Firefighters Practice Their Craft During Drill on Siemens Property in Flanders

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFLANDERS, N.J. – About 60 firefighters from Northwest Morris County practiced a variety of techniques used to find and rescue victims and save their own lives in an all-day training exercise Sunday in Flanders.

Hosted by the Flanders Fire Company No. 1 and Rescue Squad with assistance from the Budd Lake Fire Company, firefighters from Flanders, Budd Lake, Chester, Roxbury, Netcong and Stanhope moved through a series of exercises in three buildings designated for demolition. The training exercises included wide angle searching, cutting holes in roofs to allow smoke and gasses out of the building and breaking through walls to escape from a room when no other way was available.

Emergency medical services personnel from Flanders, Budd Lake, Roxbury, Chester and the Morris County EMS Task Force also were on scene. The Budd Lake Fire Company Ladies’ Auxiliary served breakfast and lunch.

The Country Barn, a furniture store that operated for many years in a converted barn on Flanders-Bartley Road, and two houses on either side of it will be demolished within the next couple of weeks to make way for an expansion of Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics. But before those old structures are torn down, the company allowed area firefighters to practice techniques used during fires and other emergencies.

Firefighter-instructors filled the barn with white, non-toxic fog to simulate smoke as firefighters searched for a victim on two levels. In one of the former homes, firefighters searched for victims of a make-believe fire while other crews ventilated the building by cutting holes in the roof. And in the third home, firefighters practiced making entry through windows and escaping from fire by cutting holes in walls and crawling through and by being lifted to safety by holding on to a charged fire hose.

Flanders Fire Chief Frank Zeller said firefighters had opportunities to practice techniques they can’t usually practice and to work together in circumstances where they could stop, compare notes and learn from each other.

“It’s unusual to find a place where we can learn and practice techniques because some of these tactics are, by definition, destructive,” said Zeller. “In addition, this gives us an opportunity to work with our mutual aid companies in an environment where we can stop the action to discuss it and learn from each other.”

Fire apparatus filled the Siemens parking lot and lined Clover Hill Road and some side streets. Zeller apologized for any inconvenience, but said the drill makes it easier for firefighters to work together in an emergency. He added that the fire companies involved in today’s event are the same ones that respond to Flanders when local first-responders need help..

“We want people to know that we’re out here honing our skills so we can serve them better,” said Zeller

Zeller praised Siemens, saying they have been long-time supporters of Flanders Fire/Rescue.

“We appreciate this opportunity,” said Zeller. “They are always supportive of our needs.”

More information is available by calling the Flanders firehouse, (973) 584-7805.

The Flanders Fire Company No 1 and Rescue Squad  provides fire protection and emergency medical services to residents and businesses in Flanders and, through mutual aid, surrounding towns. It is made up of about 35 members, all of whom receive training in fire suppression, rescue, hazardous materials response, homeland security issues and emergency medical services. The fire company operates two fire engines, one tower truck, one heavy rescue, a brush-and-foam truck, two ambulances, a multiple-casualty unit and a mass decontamination unit.

In addition, the fire company offers public education services including lectures, demonstrations, training and a trailer that safely simulates a smoke-filled home. For information about membership, donations or public education, call (973) 584-7805 or click on www.flanders-fire-rescue.org.

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