ARLINGTON — Four Arlington firefighters were among the more than 50 firefighters who recently spent four days training at two sites in Arlington as part of a continuing education class on confined space rescues.
From Feb. 26 through March 1, firefighters practiced removing victims from confined spaces that included a large confined tank provided by Pacific Tank & Energy, located in the Arlington Advanced Manufacturing Park, and a dry well provided by the city of Arlington Public Works Department, located on 59th Avenue south of 172nd Street.
Arlington Fire Deputy Chief Tom Cooper noted that this team of highly trained firefighters draws its members from the fire agencies of Arlington, Everett, Lynnwood, Mukilteo, Clearview, Lake Stevens and Snohomish County, and added that the team responds to confined space, trench collapse, structural collapse, and high and low rope rescue emergencies in Snohomish County.
“Technical rescues are usually a high-risk but low-frequency occurrence,” Cooper said. “The risk is elevated to both the victims and the rescuers involved. These responses require special skills, knowledge and tools to perform safely and efficiently The partnering agencies realize the most efficient avenue to provide this critical service is through this joint effort.”
Arlington Fire Capt. Dave Kraski touted the annual training sessions as vital to keep everyone’s skills sharp on their shared equipment.
“It gives you a chance to get some hands-on practice with tools you usually don’t see outside of doing these drills,” Kraski said. “Most of this equipment comes from grants and is distributed strategically throughout the county.”
Each day of confined space rescue training was divided up into six evolutions at both sites, during which each firefighter got to experience each position in the rescue process, from entry to communication.
“We’re required to do eight hours of training on each discipline per year,” Kraski said. “That shakes out to about a different drill every two months, which we’re occasionally asked to host. What I appreciated about both of these drills is that they were inside, they dry and they were clean,” he laughed.
Kidding aside, Kraski pointed out that the Pacific Tank & Energy confined tank posed a unique challenge for the Arlington firefighters, who had never trained in such a situation before. The well provided by Public Works was more familiar ground for the Arlington firefighters.
“I’m not sure that a lot of folks even know that we provide these services for them,” Kraski said. “There’s no way we could support the manpower or costs for these operations on our own, but through these collaborative efforts, everyone in the county benefits.”