Elected officials gear up with firefighters to learn about everyday battles

Credit: Eric Turner / KTVB

Elected officials gear up with firefighters to learn about everyday battles

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by Karen Zatkulak

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KTVB.COM

Posted on June 8, 2013 at 4:37 PM

Updated Sunday, Dec 8 at 6:28 PM

MERIDIAN -- Firefighters face dangerous obstacles every day dealing with burning buildings, intense smoke, scorching heat, and sometimes even searching for victims. But on Saturday, local firefighters handed over the reigns to some of our local and state leaders as they suited up to see how they would face those dangers themselves.

It was all part of an event called Fire Ops 101, hosted by several local fire departments and the Professional Firefighters of Idaho.

18 local and state elected officials, along with members of the media, came together to get a first-hand look at what firefighters deal with every day.

Around 60 firefighters were on hand in Meridian to lead the participants through four exercises: truck operations, extrications, a live fire, and a search and rescue exercise.

Those participating included Meridian's Mayor Tammy de Weerd, state senator Michelle Stennett, and state representatives James Holtzclaw, Gayle Batt and Neil Anderson.

Holtzclaw said it was an experience that helps him better understand what firefighters lives are like.

"Oh my word, I'm only half way through it, but I'm dead tired. So I don't know how these guys do this all the time," said Holtzclaw.

Through several different exercises, those participating experienced the many dangers and how to fight them.

"This is an amazing hands on demonstration of what our guys and gals do every day," said Mayor Tammy de Weerd.

Holtzclaw added, "We went into a search and rescue mission and it was very intense and very stressful. Again, it's hard to explain, I just have a respect for these guys. It's unbelievable."

The firefighters say it's all in effort to share not just what they do, but what they need that only state and city officials can help them with, the tools they need to save lives.

"By bringing those elected officials in, they can see firsthand how those tax dollars are being used and why we use them," said Meridian Fire Chief Mark Niemeyer.

Firefighters hope this experience gives the elected officials more insight into why they need funding for equipment and training.

This was the fifth year for the event, Fire Ops 101.

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