By Pfc. Lee Min-hwi (USAG-Yongsan)May 21, 2008
YONGSAN GARRISON, Republic of Korea - Smoke billowed out from the sixth-floor window of an apartment building at Hannam Village. Three people were trapped inside.
Yongsan Garrison firefighters quickly arrived on-scene. After assessing the situation, they needed help and called in the Seoul City Fire Department. Together, they rescued the victims and put out the fire.
Though the smoke came from a smoke machine and the "victims" were plastic dummies, the experience tested how well the Yongsan Garrison and Seoul City fire departments worked together during this annual joint exercise.
"This showed our good relationship with the Seoul City Fire Department," said Yongsan Assistant Fire Chief Bradley Bowling. "When they arrived, they fell right into our command system, they knew the procedures as far as where to go and what to work on, and we worked hand in hand. It was really beneficial for all of us."
The simulated fire took place in a vacant high-rise apartment building in Hannam Village. "We are using mutual aid from Seoul City Fire Department to come and assist just as if it were a real incident," Bowling said.
In this particular fire exercise, 16 Yongsan firefighters and inspectors and 12 firefighters and inspectors from Seoul came to participate. They formed four rescue teams and used the garrison's ladder truck to reach the sixth floor and city's ladder truck to reach the roof of the 15-story high-rise.
"Through this joint exercise we received good feedback," said Hwang Ui-dong, a training manager from Seoul's Yongsan-gu Fire Station.
He said instead of city fire stations dispatching crews immediately, they should wait until they know exactly how many vehicles and how much equipment is needed to make sure the right kind of support is sent more efficiently.
This was the third high-rise fire exercise with the Seoul City Fire Department designed to show Hannam Village residents that firefighters can reach the top floors of the 15-story high-rise buildings in Hannam, Bowling said.
"Three years ago, there was a large fire in Uijeongbu, and several lives were lost because the City did not have a ladder truck capable of reaching the top floors," Bowling said. "We started these mutual aid exercises to show residents here at Hannam that we do have the capability to reach the top of the building."