You are here

Students watch a peer brace wooden panels against soil walls during trench training Thursday.Lawton Fire student Brandon Foss secures a brace to the wooden panels, keeping soil from collapsing.Firefighters lower a brace down to their peer, who will secure it between the panels.

Trench warfare

Firefighters practice how to battle for lives when the earth collapses

The only burn wounds Lawton Fire Department students treated Thursday afternoon were their own sunburns.

Twenty-eight students spent their second day of fire service training in a trench, under the burning heat of the sun, as they practiced saving lives. The first day of trench training was spent in the classroom learning about soil dynamics and how many different types of clay a firefighter can encounter while trying to save the life of a victim trapped in soil. 

The Lawton Fire Department has been training firefighters to make trench rescues since 2008 and they've had to hire a lot of personnel over the past five years. This year is an entire new class getting their hands dirty. 

Training Officer Jared Williams emphasizes the need for both classroom training and physically getting into a trench. 

"In Oklahoma, there are several types of clay that need to be covered in the classroom," Williams said. "You start thinking about the drought we are experiencing and how many water line breaks we have had. Any time a crew goes out and works on a water line, they're digging in the soil. If there is a sewer line break, they're digging in the soil. Anything over five feet deep, is deep enough where somebody can become trapped and possibly need a rescue."

There are two types of trench sizes that can determine how a fire crew would approach a trench. Operations level, which was the size used Thursday, is eight feet deep with straight walls. Anything over that is a technician level trench. The Lawton department has 60 firefighters trained at the technician level, but Thursday's students were just starting out their rescue training. 

The Lawton Constitution

102 SW 3rd, Lawton, OK 73501
Classifieds: (580) 357-9545
Circulation: (580) 353-6397
Switchboard: (580) 353-0620