Firefighters train for situations in high-rise buildings

by: Sarah Rosario Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - With more high-rise buildings expected to be built in the Queen City, Charlotte firefighters are getting more training. The sites are common places where workers get hurt, and firefighters are the first responders called in to rescue.

On Friday, Charlotte firefighters practiced using ladders and running into a smoking building so that they're ready if something happens.

"We found a worker that had fallen off a 10-foot wall and into a pit where they were constructing a foundation," said Capt. William Keller.

Eyewitness News was on scene just two weeks ago when firefighters rescued someone from a construction site in south Charlotte. Twenty-year veteran Will Keller said it's one of the hardest operations they encounter. He said the firefighters are often weighed down by extra equipment and it's not a situation they face every day.

The rescues often take place in hard-to-reach areas blocked by any number of things, including fire or even chemicals. Friday, firefighters trained with ladders and ropes to rescue patients. They also practiced battling stairs and darkness.

"The obstacles that we're going to face are basically accessing the patient. That's why we set up this whole system. We can't just throw a ladder to a person and expect them to climb it," Keller said.

When responding to rescues in burning high-rise buildings, firefighters are forced to crawl into smoke because they can't see. They use thermal imaging cameras, which help them see through the smoke. They also use ropes and connect them to a stairwell so they can find their way out.

Firefighters say the most recent death during a high-rise incident was in 1940. They said trainings for situations like that will help keep it that way.

Monday, more than 30 firefighters went through the three-hour training. By the end of the month, all firefighters in Charlotte are scheduled to go through the same process.