Get a glimpse of the “first day on the job” in Parkrose — for Portland’s fire and rescue workers — by taking a look at this one‚
Directing a stream of water at flames at Portland Fire & Rescue’s “burning room” are newly-minted firefighters Chris Ivester and Stephen Scott.
Story and Photos by David F. Ashton
“Is there anybody here,” firefighters call, as they enter the pitch-black, smoke-filled room on the third floor of an apartment building. They’re looking for fire victims. They pause, silencing their respirators, to listen for a response.
Today, there is no real structure fire. We’re watching‚ thanks to infrared cameras‚ recruits McKenzie Handley and Matthew Jensen drill on the third floor of Portland Fire & Rescue’s training tower, located just north of NE Sandy Blvd., on NE 122nd Avenue.
Although you can’t recognize them from their images in this infrared photo, firefighter recruits McKenzie Handley and Matthew Jensen are feeling their way around a blacked-out room, practicing rescue techniques they learned in the classroom.
Firefighters hired job-ready
For most people, the first day on a new job is the beginning of a career-long learning process.
But, when Portland Fire & Rescue hires a firefighter, they’re bringing on a recruit who already has attended a six-month training academy, practiced firefighting and emergency rescue drills hundreds of times, and has passed the academic portion of their training.
At another area of this complex, south of the “Towering Inferno”, the “burn room” is ablaze. Recruits Chris Ivester and Stephen Scott quickly quench the fire.
“They’ve just graduated from our Training Academy,” Training Lt. Charles Keeran informs us. “This is their first day at Station 2. We’re doing some simulated fire calls to test their skills. We’re evaluating how well their training has prepared them for working in live situations.”
Ivester, Scott, and their teammates performed well on this drill. But soon, Keeran initiates another scenario: Momentary confusion ensues, but the drill is successfully carried out.
“But, like on the first day you’re on any new job,” explains Keeran, “you’ve got to work out some of the kinks. We practice and drill until procedures become second nature.”
Firefighter Paramedic Specialist Krista Schade (looking down as she takes notes) evaluates the recruits’ performance moments before they go into service on their very first day as firefighters.
Evaluations aid learning
Firefighter paramedic specialist Krista Schade is working with the soon-to-be firefighters. “I’m doing their evaluations. We’re getting ready to go into operation.”
Schade tells us that her role in these exercises is to take detailed notes on the drills. “Afterward, we review their performance. They get immediate feedback about what they did well, and also on the skills on which they need to improve.”
We asked how much longer it would be until these hard-working recruits would be considered to be PF&R Firefighters.
Keeran smiles and answers, “About thirty minutes. When they pass this evaluation, we’ll put the rig in service, and they’ll be available to respond on calls.”
Taking a breather, Portland Fire & Rescue firefighter Stephen Scott wipes his brow and says, “Working for the bureau is amazing. There is lot to learn‚ I love this work. I hope it’s like this for the rest of my career.”
Do you have what it takes? Contact Portland Fire & Rescue to learn if you have “the right stuff” to make their team. Click HERE to learn more!
¬© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service