COTUI FIREFIGHTER TRAINING CONCLUDES
COTUI, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC FIREFIGHTING EDUCATION RECAP
4th Installment of Training Concludes With Success
(13 February 2016) Cotui, DR After some long hours and some unfortunate setbacks, GMR concluded its fourth installment of training for the Cuerpo de Bomberos of Cotui, Dominican Republic in January. In this module, GMR instructors from Clackamas Fire, located outside of Portland, Oregon, conducted multiple evolutions of basic firefighting techniques as well as a basic fire behavior seminar and live fire demonstration. After three days of some significant heat and long training, the bomberos learned a great deal, perfecting their skills to pass onto others within their organization.
Fire bahavior sits as the cornerstone of our training so bomberos understand the 'why' to their actions, and how to best fight fire and save lives. Class focused on fire components, spread and methods of extinguishement. Using a doll house and a live fire operation, our instructor, Burke Slater, demonstrated how fire spreads within the structure through its compartments and the effects on the fire when doors and windows are opened and closed.
Ryan Patrick and Josh Santos handled hose pulls and loading as well as a pump construction and operation class for all members. With hose donated from Keizer Fire District from the U.S., the team instructed the students in advancing lines in a quick and efficient way. Using their recently donated fire pumper they received from a volunteer department outside of Boston, the bomberos ran through evolutions for two days.
Ground ladder operations for the orgainzation is relatively new. In rural departments throughout developing countries, people make due with what they have. In this case, a 35' extension ladder was disassembled to make a 24' extension ladder and a single 12' ground ladder. Rather than reassemble the original, our instructors made needed repairs to the ladders and re-strung the halyard rope. Two days of ladder carries, raises and climbs ensued.
Forcible entry class taught the basics of gaining entry into structures to extinguish fires and aid the fire attack teams. With donated equipment and tools, each student was given the basics of gaining entry using minimal means.
An unfortunate turn of events forced class to end early on the afternoon of day two. A long time firefighter with the Cuerpo de Bomberos of Cotui died after recently suffering a heart attack on the job. He had been hospitalized the week prior to our arrival in country. Needless to say, class was canceled and the somber group mourned their loss with the family of the fallen. It was an incredible show of support and Brotherhood when all the bomberos came together for the family to have the wake at the fire station on short notice. Line of duty deaths plague fire departments of all sizes and personnel around the world. It reinforces even more, the importance of training and fitness to be mission ready for battle. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of this bombero.
The class voted to continue on with training on Day 3 despite the news from the previous day. We arranged a practical scenario to culminate all the objectives from the course and conclude the session. A simulated fire had all bomberos working together to spot their apparatus, engage the pump, pull and advance the hoselines, charge and flow water, set ground ladders and practice their forcible entry skills. It was apparent that the training paid off and the level of enthusiasm was much more than previous days. The students performed admirably and were given certificates of completion during a ceremony at the end.
To our Brothers of Cotui: It is our goal to see the quality of emergency services improve in the Dominican Republic. It will take time and dedication to meet the needs of the citizens. Keep training and work with your government to improve your service. Only with the help of the community and elected officials will things improve. It was an honor to train with you. See you soon!
A big GMR thank you to all our interpreters: Yolanda, Luis, Samantha and Ottoniel. Thanks also to Yureli De La Torre for translating our PowerPoint slides on short notice. Couldn't have done it without your help!