Jefferson City firefighters tackle trenches

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JEFFERSON CITY - Firefighters toughed out the cold temperatures Thursday, scaling the only simulated trench walls in Missouri.

"It's too cold to be doing this," JCFD Division Chief Jason Turner said. "We ought to be doing this in the springtime."

The Jefferson City Fire Department trained for trench rescues because of a FEMA grant awarded to it in July.

"On the grant restriction, we've got a year to complete it," Turner said.

He said trench rescues usually happen when utility or construction workers get trapped during a project.

"We're lucky enough that it doesn't happen too many times throughout the year," Turner said. "But we need to be prepared. We have these situations around us at all times with utility workers working in trenches and construction workers."

JCFD Captain Steve Holtmeier headed the operation, and also teaches technical rescue for MU fire and rescue training students. 

He said Jefferson City has an advantage in trench rescues.

"We're a little bit ahead of the curve because we have a truck with all the dedicated equipment that we can respond a lot faster than some other places," Holtmeier said. 

He said faster response times are vital because trench rescues are dangerous situations.

"If we're responding to a trench collapse, where someone's trapped, we're talking probably hours not minutes to get someone out," Holtmeier said.

By the end of Monday, 25 JCFD firefighters will be certified trench rescue technicians.

This training course is a prerequisite part of the FEMA grant for firefighters who want to train for building collapse rescues in April.