Firefighter-Paramedic Kevin Mannion breaks open the wood “deadbolt” on a steel door with a training tool recently purchased by Largo Fire Rescue.
LARGO – Seventy Largo firefighters tried to break open a steel door, trying out new training equipment that Largo Fire Rescue recently purchased.
About half of the department’s firefighters went through the special training over three days Oct. 23-25. Their task was to practice opening a steel door with a steel frame, with a training tool used to hone their skills at getting through such a door, explained Assistant Fire Chief Michael Handoga.
“Firefighters have to be able to get into the building quickly (to) search for victims, remove victims and find the source of the fire,” Handoga said. “Fire grows at such an exponential rate.”
The faster firefighters can get through that door, the faster they can help rescue those inside and address the fire itself, he said.
A steel door presents a unique challenge.
“For us, that’s the hardest door for us to get through,” Handoga said.
For the training, a piece of wood substitutes as a steel deadbolt, providing the resistance of a locked steel door. The real difficulty in breaking open a steel door is how close it fits within a steel frame, Handoga said. The wood deadbolt mimics the steel of a real door well enough.
“Our guys can get through,” Handoga said.
Because of the design, the training door, installed at the Largo Rescue Fire Training Facility, is reusable. After the rest of the Largo firefighters finish training on it, the department plans to invite other agencies, Handoga said.
“All the departments work together and train together,” he explained. “If there’s a structure fire, it’s not just going to be Largo that responds.”
The training equipment, purchased from Firehouse Innovations Corp, is being used by other firefighters nationwide. It cost the city just over $5,000, Handoga said.
“But it will last and give hopefully many years of training,” he added.