Metro fire agencies practice drills to keep themselves safe in dire situations

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RAYTOWN, Mo. -- "Save Yourself." That was the theme of today's fire training for multiple fire companies.

The whole firefighter self-rescue class is all about learning techniques that could prevent deaths in the line of duty.

“No fire is the same; no emergency is the same, so a firefighter doesn't go knowing exactly what he's going to be asked to do,” Raytown Fire Protection District Battalion Chief Ty Helphrey said.

It's all about being prepared.

Fire crews from Kansas City, Grandview, and Raytown spent the day in a Raytown warehouse training how to keep themselves safe.

“We're sending all of our crews through these drills individually to work on some of the techniques we use to self-extricate or self-evacuate firefighters if they encounter problems on the fire ground,” Captain Ron High with the Grandview Fire Department said.

Firefighters had to squeeze through walls, follow hose lines, and go through all sorts of obstacles.

All that gear makes it that much harder.

“These drills put our firefighters in a position of extreme stress and get us outside of our comfort zone,” High added.

They wear a mask, making it harder to see.

“It's not Hollywood in these fires. A lot of them are zero visibility, and you can't see a thing, and you have to know where your equipment is at. You have to know where your tools are at, and you have to be effective using them in a zero-visibility environment,” High explained.

These training sessions began last month.

They're based on real "line-of-duty" deaths. Firefighters realized there were some things that could have saved those firefighters if they knew what to do.

“If they would have had these skills, they might have lived,” Helphrey said.

“It helps instill confidence in some of skills that will be needed if they encounter these situations, such as collapse, entrapment, getting tangled up in wires, and things such as that,” High said.

“We try and increase the size of the toolbox. We try to give them more options, more skills, more things they could use, or can use, when they encounter an obstacle,” Helphrey explained.

350 firefighters have gone through the class so far.

They've held a class nearly every day since the first one last month and will continue to have it until Christmas.

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