Thea Digiammerino

New London Firefighters Practice Rope Rescue Training for Emergencies

New London firefighters were hauled up by a complex rope system as part of a high angle rope rescue training Friday to make sure they’re prepared for whatever emergency comes their way.

“We’re surrounded by water. We have large cargo ships that are coming in, we have smaller ships that are coming in, we have trains that are coming through the city,” Battalion Chief Mark Waters, listing potential uses for the technical ropes training.

Then there’s the Gold Star Memorial Bridge on I-95.

Construction on the northbound side is set to begin in 2020. The southbound side has undergone structural steel repairs, concrete deck patching and re-paving.

Fire Chief Tom Curcio said the work is something they’re specifically focusing on.

“So we have already had a couple of incidents where people gotten trapped on one of the articulating booms under the bridge and when that happened we were actually lucky to be able to reach them with our tower ladder at that time,” Curcio said.

Firefighters considered putting a firefighter over the side of the bridge for that rescue, Curcio said.

That’s where this training comes in handy. Waters said firefighters built a tension highline on Friday, which described as having similarities to a zip line.

“We can move people, and equipment, and dogs and other resources across an area. For example, if there was a large ship that we needed to rescue somebody from down inside, there would be a chance we would have to build a tension highline to get all of our equipment from the dock onto the ship,” Waters said.

The 56-hour training is made possible by a federal grant and the city matched 10 percent. Waters said it includes new equipment and instructors from the Connecticut Fire Academy.

Firefighters are divided into four groups and training is spread out over seven days for each group. When firefighters complete the course, they take a practical and written assessment and can become certified.

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