Practicing out of a tight space |

Practicing out of a tight space

Photo by Christine Stanley/Sierra SunJustin Rossi, a part-time firefighter with the Truckee Fire Protection District, frees himself from a pipe after being "rescued" by a fellow firefighter on Friday.

Josh Simpson did not appear too comfortable at the bottom of a 16-foot pipe.

In fact, Simpson, a firefighter-paramedic with the Truckee Fire Protection District, looked like a hamster stuck in a maze tube.

But his short-lived time in the abyss was for the greater good. Because of his training, he and the rest of Truckee’s firefighters, who also took their turns stuck in compromising positions, are now able to rescue themselves and victims from confined spaces.

Confined spaces are areas with restricted access in and out, such as pipelines and

water tanks, and have the potential to collect hazardous substances, such as gas or chemicals, said Truckee fire Chief Bryce Keller. Without the proper training and equipment, rescue workers are not allowed to enter those spaces because they are likely to become victims themselves.

“Most people are not aware, but the [Truckee Donner Public Utility District’s] infrastructure has a lot of concrete vaults under the road surfaces, and that is an example of where [workers] can get into trouble,” Keller said. “We hope that these events never take place in the community, but we want to be prepared.”

During their confined space rescue training last week Truckee fire personnel practiced non-entry rescue, where they were given tools, such as rope and hooks, to retrieve someone from a confined space, and then a self-rescue from a vertical pipe.

“This was a very focused training,” said Assistant Fire Marshall Chuck Thomas. “In their next training they will be descending into a vault to retrieve a victim. They must make six entries a year into various confined spaces to maintain their certification.”

Truckee firefighters will also be trained in trench rescue, Thomas said.

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