RAPID CITY, S.D. — When it comes to a live fire situation, time can be the difference between life or death.
Thus making the importance of firefighters being on full alert and ready to go all the more important.
Since Monday night, the Rapid City Fire Department has been running drills in an almost unfamiliar setting, in the dark.
Despite the obstacle of performing the exercises at night, firefighters must get the job done. At all costs.
“Crews are going to have to arrive and they’re going to have to size up the situation,” said Lt. Jim Bussell, the Public Information Officer for the Rapid City Fire Department. “They’re going to have to look at the layout of the building, the construction, they’re going to have to look at what they’re being given as far as signs. Is there smoke? Is there a flame?”
Exercises that were executed included an on-scene report, a 360 degree size-up (a firefighter term for a complete scope of the area), location and attack of the fire as well as the retrieval of a victim. While all drills were integral to training, the act of performing them is where the teaching comes to life.
“Muscle memory is incredibly important for what we do,” Bussell said “When we arrive on scene, there’s a lot of dynamics that we just can’t recreate in training as far as the stress of the event, the noise and some of the other things that are going on. You really have to hone these skills and develop that muscle memory so that when the time comes for the real event, we’re just dialed in and we go to work.”
The opportunity to operate in a building made possible by Gustafson Builders who allowed the undermanned firefighters to use the venue, which is set to be demolished later in the week.
With the venue also came the ability for firefighters to receive training in sizing up a scene and operating outside of the hottest part of the day.
“The pandemic really put a damper on our training activities, our training section essentially didn’t exist for several months because of the pandemic, because of staffing,” Bussell said. “This is really the first big training evolution and drill opportunity that we’ve had since the pandemic.”
Operating outside of their comfort zone to expand their life saving skills.