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Merrill Fire Department keeping their skills sharp with specialized training

Published: Apr. 21, 2021 at 8:10 PM CDT
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MERRILL, Wis. (WSAW) - The Merrill Fire Department held a three-day training workshop specializing in confined space accidents. Accidents are high-risk, low-volume situations. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration said there is an average of 92 deaths per year with confined space accidents, so the Merrill Fire Department is making sure they’re ready when those accidents happen.

The department was trained by the Conway Shield group which is made up of firefighters from larger Wisconsin cities. Since confined space accidents are more common in their areas, they shared what they know.

“They have a lot more exposure to it so they can share some of that experience with us,” Merrill Fire Department Chief Josh Klug said.

“We’ll introduce them to some new practices, some tricks of the trade, for their rescue efforts,” Aaron Kreil from Conway Shield said.

The Merrill Fire Department is made up of new and experienced firefighters, so a review is needed. The curriculum includes classwork and hands-on learning.

“The classroom kind of sets the table. Then we come out here for the practical application, identifying the skill sets that are needed,” Kreil said.

Joining in the training were other Merrill utility groups that work with confined spaces like Merrill Water and Sewer. The fire department is now alerted when utility workers are going into confined spaces, that way the department is on standby in case of an emergency.

“That allows our staff to be familiar with the staff for the other departments, as well get a first-hand view of the space they might actually be working in,” Chief Klug said.

“A very proactive nature that saves life and property in the community of Merill,” Kreil said.

The class registration was paid for through a grant secured by the Lincoln County Emergency Management Director. The hope is to continue to use the funds for future training.

“We’re hoping to get back into a rotation of doing this every two years, and bring them back with this grant to help advance our skills,” Chief Klug said.

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