ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, ILL. (July 15, 2013) -- Rock Island Arsenal and other fire departments practiced confined-spaces rescue techniques at the foundry on Rock Island Arsenal, July 11.

The confined-spaces training took place in a pit underneath the foundry's mold shake out machine, at the Rock Island Arsenal-Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center, the only multi-purpose and vertically integrated metal manufacturer in the Department of Defense.

All participating firefighters were members of the Mutual Aid Box Alarm System 43 consisting of Rock Island Arsenal Fire, Rock Island Fire, Moline Fire, East Moline Fire, Bettendorf Fire and the Quad Cities International Airport Fire departments. Each fire department has a fire team mutual-aid company and another fire department that it supports if necessary.

"Once every quarter we (MABAS 43 fire departments) get together for different training," said Steve Fry, firefighter/paramedic RIAFD, MABAS 43 team member. "This quarter is our confined-spaces training. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration require that everyone has to go through the training, even if you are on a rescue team."

"The training today, is a scenario that a worker is hurt and is in there (underneath the machine)," said Fry. "They (the firefighters) have to go in and package him up safely, bring the worker out so they can be treated and sent to the hospital. That is all that they are given. It is up to them (the rescuers) on how to do it. We told them they could only enter and exit from one side. We did this to make it more challenging, and in confined spaces, there is limited access and limited egress. We can get in it and get back out of it, but it is not meant for us to be in there, they have to protect themselves. When they go in and protect themselves when they go out and also protect the victim."

Firefighters work long shifts, with many on duty for 10-12 hours or more. Even while they are training, they are ready to transition from practice into a real world situation. This is what happened during the training. A couple of the firefighters had to leave the training and respond to a fire in the Quad Cities community.

"When the MABAS division guys come together, we do rotating work shifts over a Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday," said Fry. "We do this type of training normally from 8 a.m. until noon and 1-4 p.m. or whenever we get done. It works out well. You get used to working around everybody."

"Next quarter's training has yet to be determined," said Fry. "Hazardous material training was last quarter, there is high angle rescue, confined spaces, trench and hazmat training, are all things that MABAS 43 responders are constantly drilling on to ensure their competence and readiness."

"Last month was trench training," said Fry. "They (MABAS 43 responders) actually dug a trench at the East Moline fairgrounds and entered it to complete a rescue. It is really labor intensive and takes a long time. It is worth it, to get the good training."

Angel Mojica, RIA-JMTC Safety, was on hand to serve as the liaison for the training firefighters and to ensure compliance of the foundry's safety measures.