Fire department training at Owls Head school called priceless

By Stephen Betts | Jun 24, 2018
Photo by: Stephen Betts Firefighters from around the Midcoast received training Sunday, June 24, at the Owls Head Central School. Here, a firefighter is trained on using a hose in a classroom.

Owls Head — The soon-to-be-demolished Owls Head Central School served one last time Sunday, June 24, as a center of teaching.

Fire departments from around the Midcoast gathered at the school for training.

"This is priceless," said Rockland Fire Chief Christopher Whytock about getting training in a large building.

The department simulated search and rescue in a smoked-filled room by filling the all-purpose room at the school with smoke from a smoke machine and then having firefighters try to locate someone using their thermal imaging cameras.

The newer cameras are so sensitive that they can show the heat imprint of a person's hand on a wall. This shows firefighters where a person had been in the room and can lead to a rescue.

Rockland has applied for a $240,000 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for new equipment, including five face masks that have the cameras in them. The grant would also pay for 32 new air packs to replace the 21-year-old ones.

Whytock said he is hopeful Rockland will get the grant and added that an announcement is expected in a couple of weeks.

Other training undertaken on Sunday had firefighters go into the roof of the school to cut holes to vent smoke. There were also lessons on handling fire hoses inside a building and entering a fire-filled room.

Departments participating in the training included Appleton, Camden, Cushing, Owls Head, Rockport, South Thomaston and Rockland.

Whytock said joint training is important, because no single department is large enough to tackle a fire as large as one that could occur at a school.

He said the department hopes to be able to use the existing Mid-Coast School of Technology next summer before it is demolished and replaced with the new adjacent school building.

The Owls Head Central School will soon be demolished and replaced with the adjacent Ash Point Community School.

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