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Croton, Millwood Firefighters Practice Saving Each Other

Firefighters practice the "Denver Drill" Saturday at the Millwood fire training center. The technique is used to rescue victims trapped in small spaces. Photo Credit: Croton Fire Department/Facebook
Firefighters practice techniques for rescuing fallen crew members. Photo Credit: Croton Fire Department/Facebook
Firefighters practice techniques for rescuing fallen crew members Saturday. Photo Credit: Croton Fire Department
Firefighters practice the "Thru the Floor" technique for rescuing crew members. Photo Credit: Croton Fire Department

CROTON-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. -- Firefighters rush into burning buildings every day to save people, pets and property, but what happens when one of their own needs rescuing?

Croton’s Bravest got the chance this week to participate in a training exercise known as the “Denver Drill,” said Deputy Chief John Munson.

The rescue technique was created in the wake of a 1992 fire in Denver, Colo., that took the life of 39-year-old firefighter Mark Langvardt.

Landvardt had become separated from his crew and was trapped inside a storage room filled with heavy cabinets and office equipment, according to the website, firefightertoolbox.com.

Landvardt signaled that he was in distress by using his flashlight.

Firefighters placed a ladder against the window, removed a metal security grate and dove in headfirst where they found the 6 foot 1 inch, 190 pound Landvardt, who was wearing full turnout gear, wedged into a tiny, 28-inch-wide space.

Despite numerous attempts to rescue Landvardt, firefighters could not lift or pull him the four feet to the window in time and he died from carbon monoxide poisoning.

The technique that was developed uses a series of moves and lifts that allow firefighters to rescue someone in tight spaces.

According to Munson, 10 Croton firefighters and two from the Millwood Fire Department first went to a warehouse at the Metro-North Croton Harmon Yard Saturday where they practiced a “large area search” with Capt. Donald DeRogatis, an instructor from First Due Training & Safety Consultants.

Then they went to the Millwood fire training center where they practiced the “Denver Drill” using a prop created to simulate a tight area when someone might be trapped.

It is “the duty of firefighters everywhere to never let a firefighter die in vain,” Munson said in a post on the department’s website.

The “Denver Drill” is of “unmatched importance and is a skill set any firefighter who puts on the gear needs to know,” the deputy chief said.

Firefighters also reviewed a rescue technique known as the “Thru the Hole.”

This was developed after a firefighter in Ohio died after falling through the floor of a commercial building during a massive blaze.

The technique uses a charged hose line, or a length of rope, to lower rescuers to the victim's location.

Also reviewed were basic FASTeam procedures, tactics, equipment uses and ideas on how to keep training consistent, Munson said.

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