Carrying pounds of firefighting gear and gear, six local officials learned what firefighters routinely experience Saturday morning.
Rep. of State Michelle Davis, R-Whiteland; Sam Hodson, a Greenwood city attorney; Bargersville Fire Protection District Board Member Angela Pruitt; John Mallers, White River Township Fire Protection District Board Member and candidate for Johnson County Council District 4; Michael Garrison, a member of the White River Township Fire Protection District Board of Directors and Maura Shea, an athletic trainer who works with the White River Township Fire Department, participated in Fire Ops 101 Saturday at the Tower of Bargersville Community Fire Department training at Station 202, 5886 Smokey Row Road. .
Fire Ops 101 is a Johnson County Professional Firefighters Local 4252 event that shows elected and appointed officials in White River Township and Greenwood a day in the life of a firefighter. The union represents firefighters in Bargersville, Greenwood and White River Township.
This year was the firefighters union’s third Fire Ops 101 event since 2017, and the goal is to show officials the basics of firefighting, said union president Nathan Pobb.
Area fire departments have a habit of approaching local and appointed officials to ask for things. The event should help officials understand the reasoning behind these demands by seeing the equipment they’ve paid for and the new employees they’ve funded in action.
Learning about the job is a way for managers to gain knowledge to help their decision-making processes, said Bargersville Fire Deputy Chief Mike Pruitt.
“It’s a win-win situation for any politician who gets involved in this,” said Mike Pruitt. “Bringing them here…is not only fun for them, and they get a lot of good stories out of it, but it’s also very educational and gives them a chance to see what we’re doing on this side of the fence. .”
The group of six officials first received instructions from the firefighters and then tested what they had learned in several practice scenarios.
In the first scenario, the group learned how to force their way into a burning building. The following scenarios taught the group the science of fire, how to search for victims, how to deploy a fire hose, and how to put out a fire. The group also learned how to extract a victim from a vehicle and how to react in the event of cardiac arrest.
“We want to give them the basics. A lot of them have no idea what our job entails,” Pobb said.
Mike Pruitt’s favorite part of the event is the live fire practice. Fighting a fire is the hardest part of a firefighter’s job. So when officials see the tension, danger, and science of wrestling up close, it elicits a lot of commentary from officials, Mike Pruitt said.
For Davis, Hodson and Angela Pruitt, the event exceeded their expectations and they all came away with a better understanding of what firefighters do and their needs, they said.
The obstacles Davis faced during the training scenarios gave her a better understanding of just how real it all is, she said. There were times when participants couldn’t see or hear each other, so teamwork was important, she says.
“You hear stories and you hear them talking about things, but you can’t really imagine it until you put (the gear) on and walk through a training situation,” Davis said.
Hodson was surprised by the intensity of the work, whether it was working by the fire, feeling the heat or working in the dark, he said.
“It opened my eyes,” Hodson said. “I understand why they ask for the equipment they ask for and why recommended personnel are recommended.”
Angela Pruitt entered the event with a bit of anxiety about the whole thing. She’s married to Mike Pruitt, so she’s heard a lot of his stories, but this was her first time putting on her gear and experiencing what firefighters go through, she said.
During the Search and Rescue storyline, Angela Pruitt realized how important manpower is to the job. Rescuing people in this situation is labor intensive, she said.
“They talked earlier (how) sometimes you only have three people in a truck. Obviously, four people is ideal, and it will always be a goal in the county,” said Angela Pruitt.
Despite initial anxiety, Angela Pruitt enjoyed the script, she said.
“It’s fun. It’s nice to find out what he does for a living,” Angela Pruitt said.