Firefighters practice putting out multi-story fires

Firefighters practice putting out multi-story fires

YAKIMA, Wash.- Yakima Fire crews put out dozens of house fires every year, but only a handful of times do they respond to multi-story building fires.

"We get a lot of house fires in the city, they're pretty common so we get really good at doing stuff like this. But multi-story structures and high rise fires, it's not a common event," said Langbell, Training Captain for the Yakima Fire Department.

The Yakima Fire Department conducted a multi-story training drill at the tallest building in Yakima, the Chinook Tower. Firefighters were timed on how quickly they could get water from the fire hydrant to the 15th floor of the building. Langbell says this helps fire crews become efficient in putting out these massive fires that rarely happen and teaches them how to work together in small numbers.

"This isn't Seattle, this isn't New York. We don't have the luxury of having 15 engine companies show up on a situation like this. We have a maximum of seven right off the bat but the first five minutes you're only going to get about three of them," said Langbell.

Fire crews are bringing in hundreds of pounds worth of gear up 15 flights of stairs. Firefighters are required to run up each flight in under a minute. Langbell says these drills help put their firefighters in real life situations.

"You're going to see a lot more man power and a lot more equipment. We're not taking elevators, we are hiking up 15 floors to fight these fires. So they're tired just getting up there," said Langbell.

Fire crews say every 30 seconds a fire can double in size. Langbell says they practice multi-building fires twice a year to reduce the level of risk for everyone.

"It's risky to firefighters and their safety. So the more we train on actually fighting these fires in the high-rise, letting these guys and gals go into these buildings, seeing what it looks like, it makes it a lot safer for them in the long run," said Langbell.

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