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Huntington firefighters get down (and up) with rope rescue skills

August 4, 2018

HUNTINGTON - Huntington firefighters reached new heights in their careers Thursday as they participated in technical rescue training at the Huntington Fire Academy.

The training, provided by West Virginia University Extension Service’s Fire Service, is for experienced firefighters and teaches them specialized skills to respond to a variety of situations outside of regular firefighting. This week’s subject covered rope rescue techniques.

“It’s a very thinking-oriented discipline,” said Brian Grieco, deputy fire chief at Huntington Fire Department. “These are firefighters that are moving into specialized training. They’re not only rappelling, they’re raising and lowering victims and raising and lowering themselves.”

Grieco, who said rope rescue is his favorite class to teach, has been an adjunct instructor with the WVU Fire Service since 2000 and is part of the HFD’s training division. HFD has several members who are also instructors with the Fire Service. Visiting instructors from the Fire Service assisted with the training as well.

Firefighters trained on rope skills including ascending and descending, raising and lowering victims and rappelling. These are multipurpose skills that could be used when having to rescue victims from a height, such as on top of scaffolding or out of a window, or in a situation where a firefighter would need to self-rescue.

The rope training was done off of the fire academy’s five-story tower, and for the ascension portion the trainees were required to climb 60 feet up a rope.

“It’s a good gauge to kind of get you where you’d be,” Grieco said. “You go higher than five stories it’s pretty much all the same after that.”

Grieco said after rope rescue, the technical rescue training gets more specific and covers situations such as highline building-to-building rescue, confined space training, tower rescue, advanced extrication, heavy equipment extrications and swift water rescue.

“It doesn’t stop, it can always get more complicated,” Grieco said.

Follow reporter Megan Osborne on Twitter at @megosborneHD.

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