Fire Department trains force for confined space rescues

By: Kevin Bunch | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published June 10, 2014

ROSEVILLE — If someone in the area gets hurt or is trapped in a confined space, such as a hole or a water pump station, the Roseville firefighters are now fully trained to help.

Fire Chief Mike Holland said that the 16 junior members of the force just completed their confined space rescue training May 30, which took place over the course of three days for a total of 24 hours. That means the entire Fire Department now is certified and trained to go into deep, cramped spaces to rescue people.

“We are tasked at the Roseville Fire Department for being the confined space rescue team for the Department of Public Services as they go into confined spaces where there’s pump houses for water drainage and things like that, that are deep underground,” Holland said. “So if they were to get hurt or injured, we have to go in and rescue them.”

“It involved ropes, rappelling gear and harnesses, and so forth,” he added. “Over the past five years, we’ve gotten an influx of new firefighters who haven’t had the full 24 hours of confined space training.”

The training took place at a nearby Interstate 696 pump station. The station goes about 50 feet deep, he said, so fire rescue requires special training.

He added that it also is one of the most difficult sites in the area to pull off a rescue, which makes it perfect for training.

“We always train at the most difficult sites, so if there were (an emergency) that was less difficult, we’d know we are successful,” Holland said.

Prior to the final day at the pump station, the firefighters had two days of training with a pair of Macomb Community College instructors. Holland said paying for the instructors was the only real expense for the training, since it was otherwise done while the firefighters were on duty.

City Manager Scott Adkins said it is important that the city’s emergency staff keeps its skills sharp in case of unexpected problems.

“I can’t emphasize the importance enough of continued training,” Adkins said. “You never know when you’re going to have an event that it’s needed.”

Holland said the Fire Department would be holding another training drill in October at the training tower behind the department’s headquarters, as he likes the staff to train every three or four months. Firefighters need to be recertified annually, he added.