Elected officials and community leaders slipped into firefighter gear and learned how to put out car and Dumpster fires, navigate their way through a smoky building, climb an aerial ladder to the top of a seven-story building, pry open metal doors and wield chainsaws to ventilate a roof fire.
It was part of an experience designed to show them what it’s like to work as a first responder.
The March 23 event, called Fire Ops 101, is sponsored by the Washington State Council of Fire Fighters and the International Association of Fire Fighters.
Participants at the annual event are paired with an experienced firefighter and go through six real-life emergency simulations.
Also participating in the event were Kennewick City Councilman Steve Lee, David Reeploeg, vice president of federal programs for Tri-City Development Council, and Hilary Franz, state commissioner of public lands.
Melanie Hair, general manager and founder of the Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business and Senior Times in Kennewick, also participated. She teamed up with Capt. Bonnie Benitz of Benton Fire District 4 for the exercises at the HAMMER Federal Training Center in Richland.
HAMMER is a safety and emergency response center comprised of modern classrooms, specialty-training areas and numerous life-size training props that can be configured to create a variety of situations for industrial hazards: work site scenarios, emergency response or incident command, and hazardous materials training.
HAMMER is operated by Mission Support Alliance on behalf of the Department of Energy.
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