SPRINGFIELD, NJ — As part of their annual training, members of the Springfield Fire Department practiced dropping themselves out of a two-story window on Wednesday and Thursday.
The exercise is known as Petzl Bailout training, and teaches firefighters how to properly rappel out a window in the event conventional exits are blocked during an emergency call. According to day-to-day operations captain Michael Mastroeni, drilling with the Petzl system is something firefighters do every year.
"This is a fundamental of our actual training," Mastroeni said. "This is something that we actually need to do in order to rescue ourself from a situation where we can not exit through a doorway due to fire situations. So this is something that we train quite often."
As Mastroeni noted, once per year, the department will do an actual full-scale drill. But the firefighters will also practice quarterly with their devices to make sure they are ready to go and the gear is in full operation.
As Mastroeni said, before a firefighter can get certified, they need to make nine jumps with the system, both blindfolded and visible. Once the firefighters are certified in those nine jumps, they then do three jumps every year as part of their exercises.
As Mastroeni noted, the technique is a last-ditch escape method for firefighters only.
"This is a firefighter safety and survival technique," Mastroeni said. This is made just for a firefighter. So this is something that is not used with a victim, this is when a firefighter gets trapped and has no way of escaping except through an opening or a window. They can secure themself [sic] to that window frame or that opening and then proceed out the window, and repel down the side of the building."
While the system has not yet been deployed in Springfield, due to the lack of large buildings and the ladder truck available to the department, Mastroeni said it was still key for firefighters in the department to keep all their rescue skills sharp.
"This is just one part of the training aspects that these firefighters do," Mastroeni said. "They train on different skills, on different days of the week, and this is one thing that they have to get down and get proficient at."