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Denver Elected Officials Work as Fire Fighters for a Day

August 20, 2013 - Scorching temperatures beamed down on elected officials in Denver, Colorado, as they experienced what it's like to be a fire fighter for a day.

"This is an eye-opening experience," said Colorado Speaker of the House of Representatives Mark Ferrandino. "I live by a fire station, but to experience the work that fire fighters do physically and emotionally makes me have a profound respect for those serving in the fire service."

Temperatures reached the high 90s, but Ferrandino and other Fire Ops participants remained in high spirits throughout the grueling day-long event sponsored by North Metro, CO Local 2203 and the North Metro Fire Department in conjunction with the IAFF John P. Redmond Symposium and Dominick F. Barbera EMS Conference in Denver August 20-24. It was the first ever Fire Ops event conducted by Local 2203.

The more than 20 participants included State Senator John Morse and several Denver City Council members. The fire fighters for the day were dressed in turnouts and put through four intense drills depicting fire fighting response to a variety of emergencies.

Wearing SCBAs, participants performed zero visibility searches in a basement and apartment fire, used extrication tools in a mock vehicle accident and responded to an EMS call where a "patient" needed medical attention and worked on another "patient" experiencing heart problems.

General President Harold Schaitberger addressed the group, calling Fire Ops a very important event because it gives elected officials and members of the media a "real chance to taste, smell and feel" the work of fire fighters. He also thanked lawmakers who helped pass collective bargaining for Colorado fire fighters.

"Fire Ops 101 helps decision makers connect with fire fighters and the resources and staffing that they need," he said.

IAFF 9th District Vice President Ray Rahne was also in attendance at the Fire Ops event.

Fire Ops participant Tom Deland, the chief of police of the city of Broomfield, praised North Metro fire fighters. "We've got the best fire fighters in the state," he says. "Police and fire are two very different jobs. It was an honor to be a part of Fire Ops."

Sandy Orent, a medical doctor and Fire Ops participant, said there are always an extra pair of hands in the emergency room, but was impressed with the many responsibilities that fire fighters must perform at once. "This was an enlightening experience to see how hard fire fighters work and how fit they need to be."

Local 2203 President Chris Reyes said the local held the Fire Ops 101 to raise awareness among decision makers in Denver, and praised his local for a successful event. About 45 Local 2203 members donated their time to help run the Fire Ops. "I am definitely proud of these guys for putting in the time and the prep work to make this happen."

The IAFF posted updated from the Fire Ops on Facebook and Twitter, and several IAFF affiliates - including Prince George's County, MD Local 1619 - which was provided increased staffing and additional funding for equipment and apparatus after it hosted an event.

More Videos

Norfth Metro Fire Ops

North Metro Fire Ops

News Coverage

Broomfield, state leaders get taste of life on the fire line (Broomfield Enterprise)

Lawmakers see what challenges firefighters face on record hot day (FOX 31 Denver)

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