Kirkwood Fire School Showcases New Fire Tower

Brady Smith, Anchor/Reporter

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Firefighters encounter a different situation every day, and that's what the Central Iowa Training Assocation's 27th annual fire training school prepares them for.

Chairman of CITA Fire Schools John Zlabek said the school provides first responders with useful experiences that can help them in the real world.

"From live fire training like we're doing right here, to things such as grain bin rescue, fire investigation, vehicle overturns, vehicle fires, vehicle wrecks," said Zlabek on Sunday.

Some of those live fire scenarios showcased Kirkwood's brand new fire tower. It's a propane-powered building that let trainees like Skyler Kimm and Bo Benesh, both of the Blairstown Fire Department, work with flames up close.

"It's awesome, good experience," said Kimm.

"You get to feel the heat, the smoke; it's great training," Benesh told us.

There are also classes that focus on arson and fire scene investigation, giving firefighters and even evidence-sniffing dogs like Pogo a chance to sharpen their skills.

Zlabek said he'll throw the trainees some curve balls from time to time.

"Some of the search scenarios that we'll do is where they get into some fairly challenging situations, as far as trying to find their way through a structure, or situations where they'll have to do some climbing, possibly some rappelling, things like that," Zlabek said.

Some of the lessons learned here can benefit just about anyone when it comes to dealing with fire: don't turn your back on flames, and expect the unexpected.

"They told us yesterday to be prepared for anything, because nothing is the same the second time around," Benesh said.

Zlabek said more than 700 firefighters attended this weekend's training.
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