News On 6 Anchor Trains With Tulsa Firefighters
By Lori Fullbright, The News On 6
TULSA, OK – Everyone knows firefighters have a tough job, but what's it really like to crawl through a home filled with pitch black smoke, heat and fire?
News On 6 anchor Lori Fullbright found out firsthand when she went into a live fire while training with Tulsa firefighters this week.
"Two biggest things, don't ever stand up. It's very hot, very dark and probably very scary. For a lay person, who's never been in this situation, it's going to be scary. Just don't stand up and don't do anything with your face piece," District Chief Bill French with the Tulsa Fire Department said to Lori Fullbright.
With those words of warning, Lori Fullbright started 90 minutes of training.
The first order of business was being fitted for a SCBA face piece. Fullbright went through a series of tests with it on by following prompts on the computer, looking up and down, side to side, bending over and reading a story out loud. The purpose was to make sure she had the right size and there were no defects.
Next, Fullbright got fitted with bunker gear, starting with boots, followed by pants, suspenders, jacket, helmet and gloves. The gear would protect her from the heat and fire as long as every piece of skin and hair was covered. It weighs about 50 pounds and costs nearly $3,000. Her final lesson was learning to breathe.
"These guys and girls, when they go to work, enter what we call IDLH atmosphere. That means immediate danger to your life and health, it's gonna kill you," said Captain Dannie Caldwell, TFD Safety Administrator.
So firefighters carry their own atmosphere with them, compressed grade D breathing air in cylinders.
With the training behind her, Fullbright moved on to the fire chamber outside. They built a fire in a barrel and put sheets of plywood on the walls to create a flash over fire, one of the deadliest types. It was also the first time for the eight firefighter recruits in Fullbright’s group. Chief French was assigned to keep a hand on Fullbright at all times.
Once they closed the doors, the fire grew and within moments, the smoke was so thick, the group was in total darkness until the orange flames rolled over their heads, just inches away.
They extinguished the blaze, let it build again and Fullbright crawled to the front to better feel the heat and see the flames, for a total of seven fires over about 20 minutes.
The time zoomed by and Fullbright found it less scary and more awe inspiring than she expected.
"Are you okay," District Chief Bill French asked Fullbright after the training.
"Oh gosh yes, that was amazing,” said News on 6 anchor Lori Fullbright. “He said it was time to go and I was like ‘oh.’ That was incredible with that heat and flames coming over you. That was the most amazing thing I've ever seen."
The Tulsa Fire Department just got its burn chamber last month and began this training two weeks ago.