Tangipahoa firefighters use unconventional training method

AMITE CITY, LA (WAFB) - Some Tangipahoa firefighters spent Wednesday morning on one of the Amite City playgrounds. But it wasn't for fun. It was a new form of fire training

Classes on the importance of physical fitness and drills to practice speed with emergency tools are normal parts of a fire fighter's training. But this week, the firefighters with the Tangipahoa Parish Fire District 1 in Amite tried a more unconventional training exercise at one of the town's playgrounds. Chief Bruce Cutrer says the idea came from a friend of their training officer.

"This is kind of out of the box a little bit. Sometimes in we, in the fire service, take things for granted," said Cutrer. "We know this is what our people encounter. We know this is what we need to train on, so it's no big deal. But it is a big deal."

Cutrer says when he and his guys show up to a scene, they have no clue what the situation will be. That's why he says, having his men maneuver through these playground tunnels in full gear and wearing blindfolds is a great way to prepare them for the unexpected. Though the obstacle course was on a playground, the guys who did it said there was nothing fun about it.

"It covered steps. It covered a tight space like this---up and down that you had to crawl through," said firefighter Ethen Givens.

"The last one we came through got real tight," said firefighter Hunter Perry. "For a split second it kind of runs through your mind, 'Oh mercy. You're trapped.' But once you get over that you're fine and work your way through it."

The staff from LSU's Fire and Emergency Training Institute say they've never seen anything like it!

"If you notice, when one of them would come out of the tunnel he'd wait for the other one to come too. They talked to each other the whole time. So this was the perfect example of real fire training and real teamwork," said Clay Crain with LSU Fire and Emergency Training Institute.

Crain says he and the staff at LSU's FETI train firefighters all across the state. After seeing this exercise, he encourages any department with a playground in their area to add include this exercise in their training.

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