Battling high-rise building fires - WNEM TV 5

Battling high-rise building fires

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Kirk Wilkinson (Source: WNEM) Kirk Wilkinson (Source: WNEM)

How are firefighters trained to handle massive fires?

Firefighters said knowing the lay of the land can make the difference in saving someone's life.

"You get a rush out of it. It's just like any other adventure type support, sky diving or something like that. A lot of people say you're crazy for doing it," Burton's Assistant Fire Chief Kirk Wilkinson said.

It's a job well fit for thrill seekers, but Wilkinson said it's no job for the weak.

"I've always said any firefighter who doesn't have a certain level of fear probably shouldn't be there because they're gonna get someone hurt," Wilkinson said.

Firefighters put their lives on the line every day, rushing into danger while others are running from it. The bigger the building is the higher the stakes are.

Most recently, a massive fire killed at least six people at a high-rise building in London.

"There was no fire suppression system in that building. The fire spread way too quickly and through the entire building," Wilkinson said.

He said things are typically built differently in the United States, but it's preparation that makes the critical situations a lot easier.

"We try to maintain our knowledge of the buildings in our area - big apartment complexes, things like that. So that we know if there's a fire what the priority is," Wilkinson said.

There's a strict protocol firefighters follow when responding to a call before entering the building.

"We do what we call a 360, completely walk around the building and see what's visible, how far the fires progressed and where it looks like it's progressed to," Wilkinson said.

Wilkinson said if you ever find yourself in a large scale fire you should let someone know where you're at.

"Whether it's going to a window or calling 911 to tell them where you're at. That info will get to us and will make chances of survival that much greater," Wilkinson said.

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