Fire Department helps with safety training at Nazareth Motherhouse

May 24, 2017 by

Despite the smell of smoke drifting in the air and the multiple bright red fire trucks and emergency vehicles lined up at the Nazareth Motherhouse on Wednesday afternoon, there was no cause for alarm. Members of the Concordia Fire Department were simply on hand to demonstrate the safe use of fire extinguishers to Sisters and employees of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia.

Greg Gallagher, facilities administrator for the Motherhouse, said that after all of the fire extinguishers in the Motherhouse were updated, the expired extinguishers were saved for this training in order to give staff and sisters hands-on experience in putting out a fire.

Gallagher met with the assembled group in the auditorium where he reviewed the fire emergency manual for the building. Then James Buller, Concordia firefighter and paramedic, addressed the group on the proper use of handheld fire extinguishers.

Buller used the word “PASS” as a mnemonic device to help the group remember the proper procedure for handling an extinguisher. Pull the pin. Aim the extinguisher. Squeeze the handle and shoot at the base of the fire.

“Never fight a fire bigger than you,” Buller said. “And always keep your butt in the breeze.”

By which he meant for the group to always have an escape route in mind so they don’t find themselves trapped if something goes wrong.

Firefighters Levi Whitley, Kyle Newville and Caiten Shamburg assisted Buller with setting up an actual fire in the parking lot of the building, and relighting it between extinguishing attempts. Then sisters, nursing staff and other employees took turns pulling the pins on the bright red extinguishers and trying their hands at fighting the fire.

Gallagher said the hands-on training allows staff to gain familiarity with the safety equipment so they won’t hesitate to use the extinguishers in case of an actual fire.

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