Being trapped in a burning structure is one of the most feared situations a firefighter can face.
A weekend training exercise at Dawson County Station No. 7 helped local firefighters prepare for such an emergency and gave them the means to improve their chances of survival.
"There's an average of 105 firefighter line of duty deaths yearly in the U.S.," said Battalion Chief Robby Lee. "It is now an annual department requirement for all Dawson firefighters to recertify safety and survival training."
The training focused on exiting multi-story burning buildings with instructors demonstrating rope bailouts, a technique similar to rappelling that uses a rope and an ax, tools readily available to the firefighter.
"In the event you get on a multi-floor structure and conditions get so bad that you don't have any other means of egress for coming out the window, you can't get a ladder there, it's a way to self-extricate yourself rather than perishing in the fire," said assistant chief Danny Speaks.
Emergency air procedures for self-contained breathing apparatus and methods for survival when trapped due to structures collapsing were also covered in the state- credited course.
Speaks said the safety and survival course is another tool the department offers to improve emergency services in Dawson County. The course is part of a series of training exercises ranging from live fire and extrication to search and rescue, among others, offered locally throughout the year.
"[Improvements in training] is one of those things that's ever evolving, ever changing, with new ideas coming up, so we're trying to stay ahead of it," Speaks said.