Yakima firefighters endure rigorous fire training - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Yakima firefighters endure rigorous fire training

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YAKIMA, WA - The job for first responders is never done. They're constantly training, preparing for any emergency possible.

All week long, the Yakima Fire Department is putting their firefighters through a drill that can't be simulated in a classroom. Every year, Yakima firefighters respond to the scene of dozens of house fires, and any of them can be devastating. 

But there are fires that are even more alarming. These happen in multi-story and high rise buildings like The Tower in downtown Yakima that is full of offices and hundreds of employees.

"It's not a common event, it's a dangerous event and it's risky to firefighters and their safety," said Captain Alex Langbell, Yakima Fire Department's training captain.

The sheer size of these buildings allows the department to put firefighters through a scenario that could happen at any moment. They've got to put out a fire, on the top floor.

"Letting these guys and gals go into these buildings, seeing what it looks like without smoke," Captain Langbell said. "How the hose lays out, where the connections are."

Crews not only have to climb 14 stories; they're doing it carrying at least 150 pounds of gear.

"We're talking extra bottles, extra hose. Everything that's needed to fight fire."

This drill is an opportunity for firefighters to see what it will take to get the manpower they need up to the fire effectively and efficiently.

"We're only getting a handful of them a year, so being able to get out here and practice and pull hose and actually get in these buildings...it's invaluable training for us," said Captain Langbell.

Yakima Fire says firefighters could easily weigh about 400 pounds when you consider their body weight plus the gear they're carrying, which makes it even more impressive that today's drill took less than 15 minutes.

"These guys are still sweating, still pulling hose, they're still climbing stairs," Captain Langbell explained. "They're working their tail off. They have to conserve their energy. This can be extremely exhausting."