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Firefighters get hands-on life-saving experience at 59th Annual Fire Conference

By Jennifer Kendall, jkendall@ktxs.com
Published On: Aug 22 2013 09:41:44 PM CDT
Updated On: Aug 23 2013 08:23:35 AM CDT
ABILENE, Texas -

The 59th Annual Fire Control Conference in Abilene helps firefighters get more comfortable in the field so they are less likely to get hurt on the job. It has been going on all week.

Firefighters have spent hours in the classroom and had some hands on training with a simulated house fire, car fire, vehicle extrication and search and rescue. Thursday, at the training field they worked on dangerous gas fires.

"There’ll be lots of fires, there'll be a lot of smoke and there'll be a lot of excitement," said Lt. Greg Goettsch, public information officer for the Abilene Fire Department.  

The conference helps firefighters from all over the Big Country learn how to handle situations some of them have never dealt with before.

"It’s good for us and it's good for our community for all of us to know more and have more knowledge of saving people and fighting fires," said Albany Volunteer firefighter Kris Mackenzie.

For many volunteer firefighters this year the training is even more important.

"In recent times the volunteer departments have had a hard time getting more people to volunteer. The rosters used to be much, much bigger than they are. These days there are fewer people turning out to do that," said Goettsch.  

When it comes to training to fight fires, the stakes are always high.

"It’s a life saving thing I think because if you go in there blind the real thing then you can endanger your life and your other firefighters around you," Mackenzie said.  

"That's the only response they have in a lot of these towns that we have and they can't always get this training just anywhere," Goettsch said.

This year the fire conference included firefighters from departments as far as an hour and a half away. More than 250 firefighters signed up.