Don’t say it can’t happen

Training program that includes car-in-bus scenario inspired by Newburg crash prepares first-responders, tow truck drivers for emergencies of all types

PORT WASHINGTON FIREFIGHTER Adam Lanser (above) participated in an accident training last month at the Belgium Firehouse. Fifty firefighters trained on four different scenarios as part of a Brew City F.O.O.L.S. (Fraternal Order of Leatherheads Society) event. Photos by Sam Arendt
By 
MITCH MAERSCH
Ozaukee Press staff

While practice makes perfect, firefighters can’t be prepared for every preposterous predicament they face.

But 50 firefighters from across Wisconsin and northern Illinois are ready for a few more circumstances after a specialized training session in Belgium on Sept. 28.

Lanser Garage and Towing in Belgium and Brew City F.O.O.L.S. (Fraternal Order Of Leatherheads Society), a chapter of F.O.O.L.S. International, whose mission is to train and support firefighters across the world, held its fifth annual training session at the Belgium firehouse.

The eight-hour training day was the brainstorm of two Brew City F.O.O.L.S. members, including Jamon Ingelse, a firefighter who works at Lanser Garage and Towing.

The goal, Ingelse said, is to teach the limitations and capabilities of equipment used in firefighting and towing.

The two elements are often linked “because ultimately at every accident a tow truck is going to pick (vehicles) up,” Ingelse said.

“If (towing) can be a resource for you, that was the idea.”

Firefighters don’t always understand how towing services can help them at scenes, he said. Ingelse, a member of the Sheboygan Fire Department for the past 19 years who now is a lieutenant and a former volunteer with the Belgium Fire Department, also knows the towing business well since his family founded Lanser.

“I see it firsthand from both perspectives. The firemen mentality is ‘we can handle it,’” Ingelse said. “From my towing perspective, I believe they should know the towing business and utilize them sooner.”

Lanser is a unique towing company in that it can handle heavier vehicles with a long boom.

“When it’s on the interstate, if it makes life just a little easier, we have the ability to lift 70,000 pounds,” Ingelse said.

Training included classroom work and then four scenarios: a coil on a car, cars that flew into a bus, a semi stuck under a semitrailer and a car that rolled over and crushed against a tree or pole. Firefighters were divided into four groups and rotated to each situation.

The car-in-bus scenario was inspired by a minivan that flew into a house in Newburg last year. Lanser responded to that call.

“That is a perfect example of people saying it can never happen here. It did and it does,” Ingelse said.

Each accident scene also had a different tool vendor so firefighters got to use various types of the latest equipment, Ingelse said.

They also trained on winches — their rating and safety procedures — since many new fire trucks come with them, he said.

Firefighters came from departments as far away as La Crosse and northern Illinois, Ingelse said. The cost of the training was $50, where comparable sessions cost $600.

The Brew City F.O.O.L.S. will hold a fundraiser at Inventor’s Brew Pub in Port Washington at 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 12. Raffles for cash and items will be held.

For more information, visit www.brewcityfools.com.

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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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