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Rashah McChesney
A group of firefighters from the Shemya Island in the Aleutian Islands, listen to an instructor from the Beacon Training Center Friday July 27, 2012 in Kenai, Alaska. They spent all day in a parking lot in front of a closed hardware store in downtown Kenai learning to maneuver a 40 foot tanker truck used for fighting fires as part of their yearly recertification training. Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion

Shemya firefighters train in Kenai

Posted: July 27, 2012 - 4:33pm

They left a long, serpentine series of skid marks in the parking lot; each a reminder of the urgency with which firefighters must act even when driving a 40-foot behemoth full of water.

Six firefighters from Shemya Island in Southwest Alaska, spent the week in Kenai training for re-certification in maneuvering several types of equipment with the Beacon Training Center. 

Ben Clayton, a Beacon Training Center employee who directed the group during Friday's all-day maneuvers said the truck, an E-1 Crash Truck, was the closest model to the one used on the island to respond to airplane wrecks or brush fires. 

As he spoke he had to yell over the sound of the truck's massive tires squealing through the parking lot of the former Lowe's building in downtown Kenai an area he said simulated the blacktop of an airport runway very well. 

"What we're doing here right now is a maximum performance controlled stop with a diminishing set of cones," he said.   

Each firefighter had to take the truck up to increasingly higher speeds and then slam on the brakes before knocking over any of the cones; allowing them to arrive quickly, but safely, at the scene of an accident. 

Raven Lenaris, the last truck operator to finish the exercise happily showed off the interior of the truck, explaining the intricacies of a cab designed to allow the operator to fight a fire without moving from the vehicle. 

He said driving around in a truck as big as the one he was in required a little bit more finesse than used when driving a smaller car. 

"You have water weight since this is a fire truck.  Water is sloshing about; it creates an effect that you don't get in a regular car," he said. 

 

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