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Ryan Carter Burbank firefighters trained earlier this...

Ryan Carter

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

encounter this.”

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.