Firefighters for a day included elected officials from eight communities who participated in a “Fire Ops 101” event Oct. 17 at Oakland Community College’s Auburn Hills campus.

Firefighters for a day included elected officials from eight communities who participated in a “Fire Ops 101” event Oct. 17 at Oakland Community College’s Auburn Hills campus.

Photo by Donna Dalziel


Elected officials learn about first-responder duties

By: Sherri Kolade | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published October 26, 2018

 Berkley firefighter Scott Smith and Beverly Hills firefighter Tanner Lawson rescue a “victim” during a fire simulation.

Berkley firefighter Scott Smith and Beverly Hills firefighter Tanner Lawson rescue a “victim” during a fire simulation.

Photo by Donna Dalziel

 Lt. Corey Miller, of the Berkley Public Safety Department and an OCC instructor, demonstrates a force entry door.

Lt. Corey Miller, of the Berkley Public Safety Department and an OCC instructor, demonstrates a force entry door.

Photo by Donna Dalziel

WEST BLOOMFIELD  — The West Bloomfield Fire Department and the Oakway Fire Department Mutual Aid Group turned elected officials into firefighters for a day.

On Oct. 17 at Oakland Community College’s Auburn Hills Campus, the West Bloomfield Fire Department, the West Bloomfield Professional Firefighters and Oakway participated in the “Fire Ops 101” event, in which elected officials fought controlled fires and learned what it’s like to battle a blaze.

West Bloomfield Fire Marshal Byron Turnquist said that the educational opportunity brought out elected officials from seven Oakway communities. Participants came from Bloomfield Township, Ferndale, Madison Heights, Royal Oak, Southfield, Waterford and West Bloomfield.

“What we did is we ran them through four scenarios so they can experience … a close, hands-on feel of what we do,” Turnquist said, adding that local officials, including two West Bloomfield trustees and a Keego Harbor councilperson, were in attendance. Oakway also includes Birmingham.

“Hopefully, they walk away with education,” he said of the attendees.

West Bloomfield Township Supervisor Steve Kaplan said in an email that two township trustees, Diane Rosenfeld Swimmer and Jim Manna, enjoyed participating in the recent education program.

“All of the participants found the event to be educational, and their previously high respect and admiration for the firefighters was increased by their exposure to the daily regimen of firefighters,” Kaplan said.

Oakway involves eight fire departments and comprises over 600 firefighters who provide fire and emergency medical services to nearly 500,000 residents.

Turnquist said that the event might be offered again next year.

He added that the participants went through various scenarios, including riding in a firetruck, advancing a hose line into a smoky building and seeing a simulated house fire.

“It was all under a controlled environment,” he said. One scenario involved an “injured” person, and the attendees had to provide some medical care.

In a simulated car accident, the Jaws of Life were used to cut a car open.

“It’s to demonstrate why we need manpower,” Turnquist said, adding that having the right equipment, training and manpower is key.

“You take any one of those things away and you might not have the same successful outcome,” he said, noting that this was the first Fire Ops 101 event West Bloomfield has done with Oakway.

Matt Majestic, OCC’s program manager for the basic and advanced fire training programs at the Auburn Hills Campus, said that the college has hosted various Fire Ops 101 events for other communities before.

“This was the first time it was done for multiple communities at one time,” he said, adding that in the past, four to six elected officials would learn about firefighter responsibilities. This event had 16 people.

He said he worked with Oakway, helped set up some of the day’s events and led a group of people to various stations.

“I think it is invaluable for the elected (officials) or manager of the community to have understanding of what their people are doing on a daily basis,” Majestic said, adding that maybe not every community is “fighting roaring fires,” but their responders are going to car accidents, medical emergencies and more every day. “That (perspective) is something that I think the representatives from the communities received.”

Keego Harbor City Councilman Rob Kalman said in an email that he learned a lot from the event.

“I now have a much deeper appreciation of what each of our professional firefighters endures and what resources are needed to maintain a highly functioning fire department,” he said. “I’m grateful how willing they were to explain how they do their jobs.”

He added that Majestic explained the procedures and made sure he understood how each piece of equipment worked and was important to the job.