Longview firefighters use mayday training to prepare for worst-case scenarios

LONGVIEW, TX (KLTV) - The Longview Fire Department is a big believer in being prepared. Training happens often, and a very important part of this is mayday training where a firefighter is trapped inside a smoke-filled house.

Firefighters have no idea what they're up against inside a burning building. Kevin May with the Longview Fire Department said they throw the works at those going through training.

"Even though we're not able to put them in an environment where they're subjected to the smoke and the heat and smoke, this is pretty intense for them," May said.

Due to structural damage, they don't have a burn room to fill with smoke so they use a sheet of plastic to simulate a smoke-filled structure at the Longview training center.

"They go in, they can't see what they're doing. Everything is done by feel and by training," May stated.

First up is a wooden tunnel full of wiring.

"You can get tangled up in wires maybe falling down out of the attic or you can get in wires coming out of the air conditioner or insulation or duct that goes through the attic, so all our guys are given a pair of wire cutters to keep with their personal safety equipment," May explained.

And the cutters are put to use to get out of a tangled mess.

"We want them to call mayday early and if they're able to get out we want them to cancel the mayday," May said.

The unexpected can happen too like get a foot caught on a doorknob.

"The obstacle course was not built to include the doorknob and one of the doors but as you saw he did get his foot caught in it while he was going over one of the obstacles," May pointed out.

They also have to squeeze through a hole in a wall by going backward, deal with claustrophobia, and get entangled in a simulated burned box spring. But they always use the buddy system, and that even includes your buddy's air.

"Repetition is the key," May added.

May said training is like putting a file in a folder in your brain that you can access when you need it the most.

May said Longview emergency responders train daily for every situation they can come up with, and train like lives depended on it because he knows they do.

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