By JESSICA CRAWFORD
• Daily Leader
In order to fulfill requirements set forth by the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program under the United States Department of Homeland Security, the Liberal Fire Department underwent confined space rescue training this past week. The training will be expounded on in months to come.
Cheryl Treptow, owner of Midwest Fire Training Associates of Burlington, instructed the course last week which consisted of 8-hour classes from Monday through Friday.
“OSHA has definitions for confined spaces,” Treptow said. “There are three criteria: it is large enough for an employee to enter fully and perform assigned work, is not designed for continuous occupancy by the employee and has a limited or restricted means of entry or exit. That includes grain bins, man holes, attic spaces, crawl spaces, ventilation ducts, those kinds of spaces.”
Treptow believes firefighters acting as victims in training scenarios gives them a much greater perspective as to the victims point of view.
“We do live rescue,” she said. “They learn so much by being a patient.”
Deputy Chief Skeety Poulton recently submitted an application to continue on the AFGP grant awarded to the LFD in February. If the grant is awarded, the LFD will receive much needed equipment to back up the training it has experienced recently.
“We submitted the 2010 application for the AFGP grant,” Poulton said. “I sent it off at noon Friday. Basically what we are asking for is a continuation of the 2009 grant. We asked for technical rescue equipment for the high angle rescue, trench rescue and confined space rescue to supplement the equipment that we already have.”
Due to aging equipment, Poulton said if awarded the grant, the LFD can retire equipment currently on the trucks to be used only for training purposes.
“Most of the equipment we have is almost 10 years old,” he said. “We are really wanting not only to supplement, but replace some of that stuff. That way we can back some of that stuff off to a training setup. Then we can put the new stuff on the truck and that can be designated for rescue only, that way we aren’t tearing it up when we do our training.”
The process of awaiting word of a grant award is not quick, Poulton said. The application must pass through several steps before a decision is reached.
“Now it is a waiting game,” he said. “It is not on a first come, first serve basis. Basically, they all go in and meet certain criteria. If they don’t meet that criteria, it is automatically kicked and you’re done. If it makes it on to the next level, it goes to peer review. Basically, people in the fire service from different organizations like the Fire Chief’s Association, Arson Investigators Association, they ask for volunteers and they all assemble in Maryland to review these grants. If you make it past that, it goes to another criteria and they choose from that.”
Poulton has made his case to for the LFD regarding the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program, now the LFD will wait and hope for good results.
“Last year we submitted on April 28 and we didn’t find out we had received the grant until February,” he said. “It is in line with what we did last year, we are building upon last year’s grant. So, we are kind of keeping our fingers crossed and hoping it will be a positive thing.”