Burbank firefighters trained earlier this week, not with fire
hoses, but with a maze of ropes and pulleys to learn better ways to
rescue people trapped in confined spaces.
Using specialized masks, air regulators and tanks, firefighters
worked on mock rescues from a deep manhole, where vapors and the
amount of oxygen can determine life or death.
“To have this training makes us a lot quicker at a scene,” said
firefighter Ken Hultgren, who was with the group reviewing the staged
rescue of a trapped city worker from a manhole at the Fire Training
Center on Wednesday.
The scenarios were led by the department’s urban search-and-
rescue team, also known as the USAR unit.
With recent enhancements to the urban search-and-rescue program,
the basics of confined-space rescue are not just for specialized USAR
“We can’t just go in like a bunch of cowboys and make a rescue,”
firefighter and instructor Victor Marquez said. “We want all
firefighters to be familiar with these exercises in the event we
While Marquez and his co-instructor, firefighter James Enriquez,
led a class at the manhole, another group worked on a simulation in
which a victim was rescued from a water tank.
The last time a similar drill was conducted was about two years
ago. But as the urban search-and-rescue specialty has evolved, so has
the need to train non-USAR firefighters, who usually arrive to calls
first, about how to assist and set up a scene for more specialized
USAR teams, Capt. Peter Hendrickson said.
“We have to involve the firefighters in the training at a higher
level to do this,” he said.