Over the past three days, Bryan Fire fighters have been training for one of their worst-case scenarios: a missing firefighter in a burning building. Thursday afternoon, we got an inside look at their training, and the obstacles to rescuing a colleague running out of air and time.
The exercises are known as Rapid Intervention Training, and is used to drill in case a fireman or woman is separated from their team in a dark, smoky building.
"If they went in and were searching for a citizen or bystander, or even if they got trapped or lost, we're going in and specifically trying to find them and get them air, and make it a priority to try to keep that firefighter breathing," said Todd Mack with the Bryan Fire Department.
Mack says, on average, around 100 firefighters die each year across the nation, and that many are lost because they get lost in a burning structure. These type of drills are being conducted by departments nationwide to try and reduce that average and raise awareness of the problem.
The drills were conducted in the old Coca-Cola building in downtown Bryan. The two-story building was thoroughly smoky and pitch black in some areas, especially on the second floor where the lifesize mannequin firefighter was placed, simulating a lost colleague running critically low on air.
"From what we've learned in the last two days, it's really almost like the real thing," Mack said. "There's no heat in the building from a fire, but other than that, we have theatrical smoke, and we have it so think that it'll bank down to the floor like it would be in a regular fire.
"Even though our citizen is the emphasis of what we're trying to do in a rescue in a situation, but if a firefighter goes down, that's our second priority, so we're trying to get them out, too."