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Firefighters train on smoke-filled house

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Ogdensburg firefighters responded Tuesday morning to an alarm on the city’s west side, where it was reported that a person was trapped inside a smoke-filled house.

Twenty of the department’s 28 firefighters responded to 420 Pine St., where they checked the roof and conducted searches of the structure’s first and second floors.

Next week, they’ll be back to hose down the building.

This is not a step-by-step approach to firefighting. Rather, it is part of a refresher training course not totally unlike the others that firefighters take part in during the year.

What makes this session different, however, is the number of firefighters participating. In the past, only the seven-man shifts were able to get together.

Now, close to the entire department can meet to train. And, on calls like Tuesday’s, where off-duty firefighters are often called in to assist, strength in numbers makes a difference.

Even when it’s only a training session.

“We’re not used to working together as a team,” said Capt. Kenneth J. Stull, who is the department’s municipal training officer. “The benefit is that we are able to work together.”

The smoke that filled the vacant, city-owned house was blown in by a machine and was non-toxic.

But it created the potentially dangerous reality of a smoky structure call.

“You can’t see in there,” said Mr. Stull.

All the better for training, according to one of three state Office of Fire Prevention and Control instructors on hand Tuesday to oversee the drill.

“We’re busy all year round,” said David A. Gagne, a 19-year veteran of the Massena Fire Department and a state fire instructor since 2001.

Mr. Gagne said that training sessions like Tuesday’s are essential because they give firefighters the chance to practice on “larger incident” alarms that require “all calls” of assistance, meaning the presence of off-duty firemen.

“Oh, absolutely,” Mr. Gagne said, who oversees about 200 training hours a year with other St. Lawrence County fire departments. “The more that the entire department trains together, the better.”

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