If you don't know what the title of this means, look it up on you tube Google or somewhere.......Ok now that we have that out of the way it stands for NC Breathing Equipment School. This class is held twice annually at Gaston College located in Dallas, NC. To many, this facility is the center of all that is firefighter training, and after seeing the facility I think everyone would agree. The facility is huge and allows for multiple drills to be run simultaneously within the same building without ever causing issues with one another. I have had the distinct honor to participate, become an alumni and assist in teaching this program. I enjoy going over there for at least one day during the 5 day course, and not even getting paid for it. But, I do learn something new everytime I'm there, and have a great time, so its worth it to me.
I have quite a few friends who are paid instructors in the program including my old fatheaded buddy Jason Jefferies from Working the Job. They are joined by some of the greatest instructors in our state, region, and the Country for a 5 day survival and firefighter safety class. Now we have all taken a RIT, FART, RIC, or otherwise referred to as self survival class in our career (If you haven't go take one). But this class is different, not everyone graduates, it is realistic, and it is all done in live smoke, not kiddy fog. After all of the studies showing the Recognition primed decision making is the way to go, we continue to use blackout masks, and concert fog to train our firefighters how to react in an emergency situation. How is this recognition primed? But many places lose sight of that and say its too dangerous to do. Well I agree for the FFI and FF II class it is, but not for experienced folks. Which for BES, these are prerequisites. This class puts you in the real heat, smoke, and misery that you may feel during the time when the feces hits the oscillator. You will learn proper bailout techniques, flashover recognition, firefighter packaging, lifting and moving a downed firefighter, SCBA connections, RIT rope management, and many other skills that can and will save your life everyday at work.
This type of training is hard to do, but this class allows it to happen. Hell, who wouldn't take a class where the waiting list is 75 people long (and each class only has 60 in it)? However, to me the best part of the class now for me, is surrounding myself with people who think, act, and carry themselves like me in a lot of ways. I'm not saying I have half the knowledge of those guys teaching, but man can you learn something from them. I mean I love going over there just to work with real firemen, many who are twice the firemen I even hope of ever becoming. I stood side by side inside a smoke filled environment with a man who had done everything in his power (nearly dying himself in the process) to save his Captain in a real fire. This is a guy who talks the talk and walked the walk. He did it....what we all say we will, never leave a brother behind. What class in this country can offer an instructor like that? Where can you go and feel really miserable in a drill because you are getting beat down by radiant heat, but know every moment that you are as safe as you are on the front porch of your house?
The instructors of the NCBES get it, and I love that I can be associated with it, even if it is a support role. My wife hates that I go spend 8 hours with a bunch of firemen and come home worn out, but she nor anyone else outside the fire service will ever get it. Those of us who truly care about this job, dream of being able to complete a class like this, let alone assist in putting it on. better yet, we get to go be firemen for a day, and hang out with some of the best and LEARN. This class is incredible, and anyone who has taken it would agree that the job shirt you get at graduation is a badge and a brotherhood in itself. People travel from all over the world, to take this class. I had a guy who wore one of those funny helmets and fly over some pond to get here in my class. That's right someone came to the thriving metropolis of Dallas, NC to take a firefighter class. I just hope he didn't think that Dallas, NC represented the whole US.......If you want some more information on this class please email me @ email@example.com and I will get it to you. Check out Jason's blog as well for some great still pics of this past class.
In closing please support the Asheville Fire Department's effort to help out the family of Captain Jeffrey Bowen who perished on July 28, 2011 at 445 Biltmore Ave. Visit Captain Jeffrey Bowen .com to find out how you can support them. They are selling some great T-Shirts that are raising funds.
Here's a video of a few of the drills (not too many of the smoky one's since for those everyone is working)
Until the next time, Stay Safe and Stay Trained.