The Dickinson Fire Department got its first in-building practice drill of 2020 under its belt after the department used what remained of the Dairy Barn on East Villard Street on Thursday for training. Fire Chief Jeremy Presnell was front-and-center as he supervised and monitored the leadership of his most experienced firefighters as they led the rest of the department in treating the drill as if it were a real-world problem.
Using a projection of flames on the walls inside the building with the added realism of smoke blowing out of all openings in the building, firefighters went to task fighting a simulated fire while ensuring that proper procedures were being followed in prioritizing the situation with victims and potential firefighters in distress out of danger. Just as in a real-life situation, firefighters took from the experience renewed confidence in their equipment.
"What we’re doing here right now is a real-life simulation that help in real-life situations," Jared Rhode, Firefighter EMT for the DFD, and organizer of the drill, said. "The reason that we’re doing this is because we’re trying to exploit our weaknesses and work on those to make us a better department and better group of firefighters."
Rhode said that while firefighters are constantly training and trying to get better, the opportunity to use older building for real life scenarios is one that is in short supply and highly valuable as a teaching tool. Thursday's drill was the first time this year that the fire department were able to have an actual scenario practice drill in a non-training structure.
"The more buildings that we have, the better it is. It’s definitely great when we can work with owners throughout the town and do these kinds of things," he said.
Overseeing it all, Presnell nodded in approval as the department's performance surpassed training expectations and demonstrated the efficiency and professionalism of all in attendance. Presnell said he was pleased..
"It’s really great to see everyone in action, it’s like a well-orchestrated symphony," Presnell said. "Just seeing people knowing what to do. There wasn’t a whole lot of unnecessary radio chatter, everyone knew what their jobs were, they went work and maneuvered with all the different scenarios we threw at them, just we’d have to in a real fire."
Any great training situation provides opportunities to improve, and Presnell noted some areas where continued training would only further improve the quality of the department, though noted that he is very confident in the department based on their performance on Thursday.
"Dickinson is in good hands," he said.