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Reaching out when it counts

Posted on Tuesday, November 19, 2013 at 12:06 pm


During a simulated river rescue at the Southern Family Market parking lot, Manchester firefighter Shannon Fletcher moves along the department’s new engine’s aerial ladder controlled by Lt. Sammy Morton to rescue a “victim” from the roof of Chief George De-Shields’ vehicle. MFD is coordinating the rescue with the Tullahoma FD ladder truck manned by Manchester firefighter Chris Spencer and Tullahoma firefighters.

Staff Writer
John Coffelt

 Manchester Fire and Rescue is conducting aerial ladder operations training in conjunction with Tullahoma FD conducted by an instructor at the Tennessee Fire Academy of Murfreesboro.

“Since [the city] has bought a new aerial, we’re attempting to make sure that everyone is as familiar as possible with the equipment, design, an its capabilities and limitations,” said Chief George DeShields.

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Manchester firefighters Lt. Stephen Wooten, left, Matt Bendus, Johnny Fults and Alexander Wigley Monday carry a full-sized training mannequin strapped to a Stokes litter off the turntable of Manchester’s new ladder truck after carrying the “victim” down from the roof of the Manchester Rec. Complex. Bendus served as a spotter guiding Wigley and Wooten down while remaining firefighters still on the roof lowered the safety line.

He said that it’s important to get everyone as much hands on training before the firefighters are called on to use the truck in the field.

Leading the training is veteran firefighter Rick Parks of Ladder 21 in Nashville.

DeShields said the training included about four hours of classroom time to get the concepts down before the teams went to locations around Manchester to practice the concepts.

“We are going through different scenarios … just checking the limits and the extent and capabilities of the vehicles,” he said.

Taking part in the training are members of TFD that haven’t had aerial training using Tullahoma’s larger truck with a platform on the end of the aerial.

“This is the perfect opportunity for us to get to work together and see what both trucks could offer.”

DeShields explained that its not a matter of one being better, rather that each has strengths and weaknesses different from the other.

Tullahoma area has a longer reach, which DeShields says places the truck further outside a potential collapse zone, but it is longer and requires more space for its outriggers.

“It’s a matter of choosing the right tactic for the truck.”

Tullahoma has a mutual aid agreement with Manchester, so working together offered different crews to practice the communication.

DSC_0366“This further enhances our capabilities when doing a firefighting or rescue operation,” DeShields said.

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Last week crews trained at the Southern Family Market lot, practicing maneuvering the two aerials in close proximity into simulated rescues.

They also worked on low angle rescues, where instead of being raised to the top floors of a building, the aerial’s span reaches out to give access to ravine or across a river.

On Monday the teams performed simulated rescues at Kingwood Arms and from the roof of the Manchester Recreation Complex roof.