Firefighter academy cadets battle fully-engulfed tanker

Baton Rouge Fire Department cadets work to put out a tanker fire.
Baton Rouge Fire Department cadets work to put out a tanker fire.

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - With a propane tank in hand and a tanker leaking diesel, a firefighter set the scene for a training exercise.

"If you put those guys out on the streets to protect the citizens of Baton Rouge, and they've never seen anything like this, they have no expectations," said Baton Rouge Fire Department's Chief of Training Scottie Schelton.

The training at the LSU Fire and Emergency Training Facility is meant to prepare 35 cadets in the Baton Rouge Fire Academy for the real world.

A fully-engulfed tanker was set on fire to go up in flames and firefighters had to get it under control as soon as possible.

As children, wives, and parents looked on proudly, James McConnell watched his son's lifelong dream turning into reality.

"To think when Matthew was 7 or 8 years old and visiting me at the fire station and coming up and this is just something that he's wanted since that time, and now he's here," said McConnell.

McConnell is a second generation Baton Rouge firefighter. His father and uncles were all firefighters. Now, one of his sons is already part of the brotherhood, and his second son is a part of the academy. Back in his day, McConnell said the LSU Training Facility wasn't here, but thanks to it, his son and all the other cadets are getting the finest of training.

"Baton Rouge is surrounded by industry. We have Exxon Mobile in our backyard, the second largest refinery in the country. Baton Rouge is surrounded by manufacturing and industry. We deal with all of hazmat. It's one of those low frequency, high-risk emergencies that we're required to go out and mitigate," said Schelton.

The fuming blaze is what keeps Baton Rouge homeowners paying the lowest possible insurance rates. BRFD has been a Class 1 rating since 1979 with the training only helping to hold that class.

The cadets will now go through an EMT training next. The 35 men are set to graduate on February 15th.

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