KALAMAZOO COUNTY, Mich. - Dozens of firefighters from across West Michigan, getting together in Kalamazoo County for four days of some of the best training available in the country; learning some of the most important techniques that could one day save your life.
Lieutenant Michael Wilbur, a veteran trainer from the New York City Fire Department, was brought in by the Kalamazoo County Fire Chiefs Association training committee for unique training opportunities for the men and women dedication their lives to duty.
"I worked there in the fire department from 1981 until 2013," said Lieutenant Wilbur. "My first 10 years there I drove a ladder truck for part of that. We would do 5,000 runs a year and we were doing two and three working fires a night."
Training exercises are being held Thursday through Sunday, with a big focus of Friday's drills on depth perception when using equipment and efficiency in response. Lieutenant Wilbur believes young people today are not tuned-in with heavy equipment like people were years ago with children driving tractors and trucks on the family farm.
"Aerial devices are probably the most misunderstood pieces of fire apparatus that fire departments have in our fleet," said Lieutenant Wilbur. "So, we’re here to kind of bridge the gap and teach them how to use this big heavy equipment.
Chip Everett, Captain of the Oshtemo Fire Rescue Team, said Friday's aerial training exercise is day two in the four day course, which also includes two days of classroom work.
"Actually, we'll be doing some practical evolutions and drills, both here at the station and out in the community," said Cpt. Everett.
Firefighters from at least ten different departments around West Michigan and even Indiana were in attendance, making this year's training a memorable experience.