KLEW reporter learns what it takes to be a firefighter at "Fire Ops 101" Program

RICHLAND, WA - Each year the Seventh District of the International Association of Firefighters invites elected leaders, community leaders, and journalists to spend the day in the life of a firefighters at the Hammer Federal Training Facility in Richland, Washington.

The Pullman Fire Department invited Reporter Rachel Dubrovin to go through the "Fire Ops 101" Program, and Monday night she tells us about her experience.

KLEW News took a trip to the Hazardous Materials Management and Emergency Response Federal Training Center on the Hanford Site in Richland, Washington.

"The actual facility here in the Tri-Cities is probably one of the safest training facilities in the United States," said IAFF Seventh District Vice President Ricky Walsh.

It's where the Seventh District of the International Association of Firefighters hosts Fire Ops 101. Community leaders and reporters like me came from all over the state to learn about what it takes to be a firefighter.

"They get a much better appreciation for what we go through and the type of training that we need," said Pullman Firefighters Union Secretary Treasurer Chris Volk. "And the versatility of the fire service."

We started the day with a 70-foot climb up a ladder.

"Kind of take a look around, pretty good view from up here," said firefighter.

"Pretty good view, ya," said Reporter Rachel Dubrovin.

It turns out... that six story climb was one of the easiest tasks of the day.

"You're up there on a burning building, so time is of the essence," said Firefighter Nick Huck.

Firefighters showed us how they cut holes in roofs...

(chainsaw buzzing)

"You want to stay on the ladder the best you can," said Huck.

It releases smoke and helps put out the fire.

"We never know what we're going to encounter," said Marysville Fire District Firefighter Dean Shelton.

One of the hardest tasks was putting out a fire in the burn building.

(water spraying)

"Keep going, keep going," said Volk.

"Nothing is made of natural fibers anymore, when we go into house fires, everything is synthetic," said Shelton. "It burns hotter, it creates gasses and poisons that kill us."

(water spraying)

We also got to experience what it's like to operate a hose that's larger than two-inches in diameter.

"We want to get the person out of the vehicle and to the trauma center within one hour," said Puyallup Fire Extrication Team instructor.

The Puyallup Fire Extrication Team showed us how they tear cars apart in order to save lives.

"Breaking glass," said extrication firefighter.

(glass breaks)

(Drilling into car door)

The hottest task was last

(water sprays while propane fire is burning)

It gave us a chance to literally 'feel the heat' of a propane fire. As it turns out, a firefighter's job isn't as simple as putting water on flames.

"It's time critical, and it's highly technical, and it's very labor intensive," said Walsh.

At the Hammer Federal Training Facility in Richland, Rachel Dubrovin, KLEW News.

The Seventh District of the International Association of Firefighters is made up of career firefighters in Washington, Idaho, Montana, and Alaska. This was the tenth year they've hosted the Fire Ops Program.