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Fire training provides real experience

YATES COUNTY—An abandoned house on Route 14 in Penn Yan was the site of a Smoke Divers course for 21 firefighters, Saturday, Nov. 7.
Glenn Miller, Yates County Emergency Management director, explained the 21 students come from all over the county, from Rushville down to Dundee.  He said the course started Oct. 1 and by the time it ends the students will have clocked almost 40 hours of training.  The course is all about live fire training.
This past weekend, the trainees used the house to complete different drills for searching a burning building.  Miller said that this weekend the students will return to the house for more drills, but the building will actually be on fire.  He explained the house will be prepared for the burn according to National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) regulations.  The windows were already taken out by the Nov. 7 course.
“It’ll be as safe as can be,” Miller said.  He added that in addition to 20 instructors for the course, the day of the burn there will be an additional 20 personal for added safety.
At Saturday’s training, the students practiced searching rooms and crawling along the floor following a hose, just like if it were a real fire.  Miller added to make it realistic, the trainees’ visibility was decreased with plastic covers over the goggles.  He explained the hose course also required students to encounter situations where they had to take their packs off to get around an obstacle.  During Saturday’s training, instructors noted communication between students during the drills and how thoroughly a room was searched.  Miller said the course started in October with the basics first, putting on the gear, before going up to putting out live fires.  
Miller said the Smoke Divers class has been offered in Yates since 1977.  He explained officials from Ontario County came down and showed Yates how to do it.  Since then, the county has been doing it in-house.  Miller, the class instructor, said that next year would probably be the last year he is in charge of the course

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