By Skip Vaughn, USAG RedstoneAugust 13, 2009
"Where's the elevator at'" quipped a firefighter as he climbed the steps of an old NASA test stand.
The mothballed test stand and a nearby blockhouse were the site the afternoon of Aug. 5 for an Alabama Fire College Rope Rescue Class. Redstone Fire and Emergency Services conducted the training last week for Redstone, Huntsville and Madison firefighters.
"It's a 40-hour class," Jeff Burns, one of the three instructors, said. "It's called technical rope rescue, it's a rope rescue class."
Besides the classroom instruction, the firefighters practiced rappelling and did a basic high line. That afternoon, they took turns riding across a high line from the roof of the blockhouse to the tower. Each student traveled the 130 feet across at about 60 feet above the ground.
"It was great, it was fun," Madison firefighter Zack Lier, 22, a Florence native, said after finishing the trip. He has been with the Madison Fire Department one year.
Burns, Ed Herbster and Robert Simmons, all drivers at Rideout Road fire station No. 1, taught 19 students. Most of the Huntsville and Madison firefighters are on Alabama Heavy Rescue 1, the heavy rescue response team for North Alabama.
"It's really good," Huntsville firefighter Anthony Harris, 27, said of the training. "I mean these guys are on top of things, teaching us a lot."
"It's pretty strength-enduring," Huntsville fire investigator Mike Jaco, 39, said. "Very intensive."