MONROE: Firefighters, industry join for drill

The Monroe Township Fire Departments hosted a confined space drill working with several departments within its district on Oct. 18.

By Amy Batista, Special Writer
MONROE — The Monroe Township Fire Departments hosted a confined space drill working with several departments within its district on Oct. 18.
   The drill was to simulate the contact and removal of a victim in a confined space, which was within a large mixing vessel inside a company located in the Industrial Park.
   ”Our drill was a success in the aspect that we were able to hone some of the skills that we do very well, and identify some shortfalls that we need to polish up on,” said Lt. Mike Daley of Monroe Township Fire District #3. “This helps to identify areas of improvement so any future training sessions can target these areas and can be tailored to address them.”
   Lt. Daley was in-charge of running the drill.
   Firefighters from Platoon D worked together to ensure proper air quality for the victim and rescuers while coordinating the efforts of numerous teams.
   Both Monroe Township Fire District #2 and Monroe Township Fire District #3 teamed up together for the drill. They set up an overhead rigging system to lower two rescuers into the tank to perform the rescue.
   ”While this task was being completed a separate crew was monitoring conditions inside the tank making sure the atmosphere was not toxic and setting up an air supply for the victim,” said Lt. James Riley of Monroe Township Fire District #2.
   ”Once the rigging was set, the two firefighters Mario Batista and Michael Gillette, made entry to rescue the victim,” Lt. Riley said. “When the victim was removed and both firefighters had been successfully retrieved from the tank we needed to safely lower the victim to the ground.”
   The township departments have received specialized training that they continue on a daily basis.
   ”Training in the fire service should be something we do every day,” Lt. Riley said. “It is this training that makes us competent and proficient in our jobs and that is what keeps us, and the public we serve, safe.”
   According to Lt. Daley, his department provides “technical rescue for our community, including Confined Space Entry and Rescue.”
   ”Monroe Township Fire District #3 provides much more than fire suppression and protection,” Lt. Daley said. “The members of this department are also trained in multiple facets of technical rescue, providing services such as motor vehicle extrication, high angle rope rescue, confined space rescue, trench rescue, water/ice rescue and building collapse rescue support for the members of our community.”
   OSHA requires confined space rescue teams to participate in an annual refresher and entry training with spaces similar to those that they would be responding to in the event of an emergency, according to Lt. Daley.
   ”We train in this specialty field, which includes knot tying, patient care and packaging, rope care and maintenance, and how to complete all the required paperwork multiple times per year,” Lt. Daley said. “All firefighters must be proficient in these areas in order to have a successful entry and retrieval of a victim.”
   It was the second time the departments had the opportunity to participate in this type of training at Davlyn Industries, Inc. located at 5 Fitzgerald Ave.
   ”This occupancy has some specific challenges when working around these spaces,” Lt. Daley said. “Shape and location of the vessels makes it extremely difficult to work with a tripod over the vessel.”
   The tank consisted of one approximately 18 inch opening at the top and multiple hazards inside, including the mechanisms used to mix the product in the tank, according to Lt. Riley.
   According to Lt. Daley, this challenge required the firefighters to find overhead anchors that were accessible by ground ladder only.
   ”Secondly, the vessel contained energized mixing blades that must be locked out and de-energized prior to any entry of our members,” Lt. Daley said. “Additionally, the limited space on top of the catwalk around the vessel only allowed for essential members to operate around the vessel.”
   ”We have had great success with our training at their site and we enjoy the relationship we have with their operations and management team,” Lt. Daley said.
   Lt. Riley found the lowering system, called a high-line, which was used to lower the “victim” to the lower floor was the highlight of the drill for him.
   ”Setting it up and successfully lowering the victim to safety was the most interesting part of the drill,” Lt. Riley said. “The fact that everyone worked together as a team in order to engineer the lowering system and successfully lower the victim was my favorite part.”
   All departments involved worked successfully together using proper confined space rescue procedures and the mock “victim” was removed safely.
   A critique of the drill was performed afterwards which allowed all participants the opportunity to express themselves.
   Lt. Riley thanked Davlyn Industries for all their “help and patience in allowing us to train in their facility.”