Taking a lesson in small-scale firefighting

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Katie Peterson, Fort Leavenworth Lamp reporter, practices using a small multipurpose fire extinguisher, keeping in mind the acronym PASS (pull the pin, aim at the base of the fire, squeeze the lever, sweep side to side) as she does so, during fire extinguisher training for Lamp staff members Oct. 7 at the All-Hazards Training Center. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp

Katie Peterson | Staff Writer

I’ve been fortunate to never have to face a fire of any kind — whether it be electrical, cooking related or ordinary combustibles — which means I’ve also never had to use a fire extinguisher.

After going through fire extinguisher training with the help of Fort Leavenworth Fire and Emergency Services personnel Oct. 7 at the All-Hazards Training Center I now feel confident that I would be able to battle a potential fire, should it occur.

Assistant Chief of Fire Prevention Dean Turner, with the help of Assistant Chief of Training Edgar Guerra, and Fire Inspectors Antonio Masisak and Aaron Dennis showed myself, Fort Leavenworth Lamp photographer Prudence Siebert and Fort Leavenworth Public Affairs intern Annika Kinder, how to properly use an ABC multipurpose fire extinguisher with the help of the new Fire Extinguisher Training system.

To begin, Turner taught us about the five different classes of fire and the proper way to use a fire extinguisher following the PASS acronym.

Then, I began the active portion of the training. Masisak controlled the propane simulator. The heat of the controlled fire felt intense as I got in position to use the fire extinguisher. It made me nervous, but I tried my best not to show it.

They coached me through the PASS technique — pull, aim, squeeze and sweep.

Step one, pull out the pin. This was difficult at first because it required a little twisting to get it loose. I was glad to find out that I didn’t have to hold onto it and could just let it fall to the ground.

Fire Inspector Antonio Masisak controls the fire extinguisher trainer as Katie Peterson, Fort Leavenworth Lamp reporter, practices using a fire extinguisher, keeping in mind the acronym PASS (pull the pin, aim at the base of the fire, squeeze the lever, sweep side to side) as she does so, during fire extinguisher training for Lamp staff members Oct. 7 at the All-Hazards Training Center. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp

Step two, aim the nozzle at the base of the fire. The longer nozzle of the 10-pound extinguisher made it easy to aim at the base of the fire without having to get too close.

 Step three, squeeze the lever. Honestly, it was easier to squeeze than I thought it would be. I expected to have to have more of a firm grip on it.

Step four, sweep back and forth across the fire. My first pass at fighting the simulator went quickly. I only had to sweep for a few seconds before Masisak hit the switch to turn the simulator off. I was glad for it, too, because 10 pounds doesn’t seem like a lot, but it quickly started to feel heavy.

My second and third times weren’t as easy because the flames kept rising to give me a better sense of how a real fire might act. Although that added to my nerves, I’m glad for it for more than one reason.

Not only did taking fire extinguisher training give me slightly more confidence should I ever face a fire (as long as it’s small), it gave me even more appreciation for the service Fort Leavenworth Fire and Emergency Services provides to keep the Fort Leavenworth community safe on a daily basis.

Your office can get this same training experience and gain confidence. To enroll, call Turner at 684-4190 or e-mail Turner at dean.t.turner.civ@mail.mil.

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