‘Making the difference’

Webster City firefighters gathered for a training session on Monday evening at the state maintenance shed in rural Webster City.

At the training, the firefighters participated in stations which Webster City Fire Chief John Conyn said represented something that could happen at any given fire. By practicing using ladders, fire hoses, and other pieces of equipment, Conyn said local firefighters gain priceless knowledge and confidence.

“Training is what’s making the difference,” Conyn said.

The training station hosted by Conyn had firefighters practice tying knots and harnesses. One that he demonstrated is called a hasty harness. It’s created by using webbing to create loops to bind the groin and shoulder-blade areas of a person. With that harness, firefighters can drag a downed firefighter or unconscious person to safety. Conyn said it’s easier than carrying a person by hand, especially with the heavy gear that firefighters wear.

In the future, Conyn said he hopes to have all Webster City Firefighters trained to use that webbing and include it with their regular gear. As the recently hired Fire Chief, Conyn said his mindset is to give local firefighters as many tools as possible for dangerous situations they may encounter.

“They know how to help each other out. My idea is just showing them one more trick that can help them in the case of an emergency,” Conyn said.

At Conyn’s station, he also trained firefighters to use a common tool in a more efficient way. If a firefighter needs to cut open a roof for ventilation or cut into a floor to access a basement during a fire, they would likely use a fire axe. Rather than swing at those surfaces as if they were cutting down a tree, Conyn told firefighters that short, forceful swings can better accomplish the task. In full gear, firefighters practiced those swings on logs with Conyn there to guide them.

“This is just one more way for them to think about it, one more tool of the trade,” Conyn said. “There’s a strong group of firefighters here in Webster City. What we’re going to do is just keep making them stronger.”

Other stations at Monday’s training session included laddering and working with a hose. Conyn said firefighters will have the opportunity to participate in similar training sessions a couple times each month for the next few months. He said a few new recruits at that training had a chance to apply what they’ve studied. For more experienced firefighters, Conyn said helps them acquire muscle memory and helps them grow stronger.

As the new Fire Chief, Conyn invites community members to visit him at his office at the station.