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Hollywood Fla--City officials experience "the job" first hand

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  • Hollywood Fla--City officials experience "the job" first hand

    Hollywood Fire-Rescue puts the heat on public officials

    By Christiana Sciaudone
    Staff Writer
    Posted June 12 2003

    Decked out in full firefighter gear Wednesday, public officials became firefighters for a day to understand better the job of the men and women entrusted to fight fires and save lives.

    The event, Fire Ops 101, sponsored by Hollywood Fire-Rescue, is the first of its kind in the nation that puts public officials through the same training firefighters get at the Broward Fire Academy training grounds in Davie.

    The day also marked the opening of the seventh Biennial International Association of Firefighters Emergency Services Conference at the Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa in Hollywood through Saturday.

    "There is no better way for public officials to learn firsthand what firefighters and paramedics really do and get a better understanding of the dangers and stress involved in their daily jobs than to go through a program like this," said Harold Schaitberger, president of the IAFF, a union that says it represents about 260,000 firefighters and paramedics who serve about 80 percent of the nation's population.

    About 14 fire departments from Broward and Miami-Dade counties and more than 30 fire service training instructors participated.

    City commissioners, city council members, medical directors, and others from the tri-county area and as far away as Boise, Idaho, crawled through smoke and heat, rescued victims in the dark, laid hose lines and put out fires with real firefighters by their side. They found out a little more about the details that make fire departments tick.

    "We have to vote on everything from uniforms to gear, and you never quite know what it is you are voting on," said Hollywood City Commissioner Beam Furr. "The more aware I can become on every issue, the better."

    Hollywood's fire-rescue budget is about $30 million, Furr said.

    "In general, public safety is expensive," Furr said, "but people look at the government to provide these main things."

    One of the purposes of Wednesday's event was to stress the importance of having a fully staffed fire department, fire officials said.

    "Cities and counties are typically reducing staff because there are not a lot of fires." said Miami-Dade County Fire Rescue Capt. Dave Downey. "But when there is one, you need firefighters."

    Miami-Dade County Commissioner Jimmy Morales was awed by one particular experience: Decked out in full gear with an oxygen tank, participants crawled through a closed 8-foot shipping container with a heap of burning hay and particle board at one end and thick layers of smoke filling the space.

    "It gives you an appreciation and respect for fires," Morales said. "There are a lot of sophisticated skills used here, and I think now I appreciate it more than I ever have."

    Christiana Sciaudone can be reached at [email protected] or 954-385-7922.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

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