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Posted: January 23, 2014 10:00 p.m.

Rescue in tight spaces

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The Covington Fire Department Training

A blaze raging through acres of woodland or threatening to hop to a neighboring house is something all firefighters are trained to handle.

However, those types of emergencies aren’t the only ones that firefighters must handle. Oftentimes, people who are in a bad wreck or trapped in a tight situation need the fire department, its equipment and specialization to come to the rescue. In Covington alone, there are a number of industries and businesses where employees work in tight, dangerous spaces every day.

The Covington Fire Department is in the process of being certified to handle those situations with national expertise.

Throughout the week, the fire department has been going through a course in Confined Space and Technical Rescue Training. This training, beyond the firefighters’ typical annual competency preparation, was specially written into the 2014 budget.

"It’s not required, but it’s something each department has to figure out. It involves a lot of equipment, a lot of additional cost for the municipality and a lot more expenditures to continue to train people on these advanced techniques," Covington Fire Department Assistant Fire Marshal Tony Smith said. "The city has prioritized it due to our heavy industry. We have a lot of areas where incidents would occur at these industries where it would require a special skill set."

Every member of the 56-person staff has gone through three stations of the hands-on exercises, along with classroom lessons beginning Monday, going through the week and concluding with a National Professional Qualifications test Jan. 27. The first practical exercise began Monday in a ditch outside the old Food Depot shopping center on Highway 278, moved to a manhole in front of the CVS, and concluded at a silo at Contract Packaging on Independence Circle.

Sessions were split up among the fire department’s three shifts so no overtime was needed to complete the training.

"The guys received 32 hours of training and rope rescue," said George Nour, president and owner of Professional Rescue and Fire Training, the organization conducting the course. Participants also gained "skills such as supplied air and communications in the event of a citizen getting trapped in a piece of machinery or something where the guys can get in there and rescue," Nour said.

After completing the training and passing Monday’s test, all of Covington’s firefighters will be certified to handle confined-space rescues in any state in the country.

"No matter which apparatus is needed or which shift is on duty, we will all have the same level of training throughout ," Smith said.

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