Battling Cedar Falls fire required endurance and coordination - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Battling Cedar Falls fire required endurance and coordination

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CEDAR FALLS (KWWL) -- A massive fire like the one Monday night does not happen often in Cedar Falls. Usually, firefighters are able to respond before flames have a chance to spread. It took firefighters nearly four hours to put out the blaze at a home on Spruce Street. They spent about forty minutes controlling the flames, and worked until about midnight to extinguish it completely.

"That's very rare. It has not happened that many times that I've seen -- I've been on sixteen years. It's just not a common thing," said Captain Rob Inouye.

It may not be common, but Inouye and his crew train daily for that type of fire.

"Getting that cardio endurance, then also the balance with the strength training," said Inouye.

They need physical endurance to work quickly under the weight of their protective gear, and Inouye said the only way to truly understand just how much stamina it takes is to suit up.

The standard jacket and pants have four layers of protection from the heat and fire. Once firefighters have all the gear on, the layers of clothing, air tank, and head gear weigh about seventy pounds. The heat and weight can be dangerous if worn too long.

"How do we do this? How do we wear all that gear, wear the SCBA, be on air on that mask, and keep working? A large part of that has to do with the fact that we use crew resource management," explained Inouye.

During the blaze Monday, crews of two or three moved around often.

"Working into other jobs that weren't on air, lighter duty jobs, and then taking breaks in the rehab area," Inouye said.

Paramedics were constantly monitoring their condition.

"Checking for signs of overly fatigued or dehydrated personnel," he added.

And after an evening of exhausting work, even heroes need a day of rest.

"I used to joke it would take me a half day to a day to recover. Now that I'm getting older, it takes one or two days," said Inouye.

Working smoke detectors alerted the family of five Monday night. Firefighters said the devices have saved the lives of 17 people already this year.

Crews were able to rescue a few personal items from the home -- including photos, mementos, and the mother's wedding ring. A fund to help the family is set up at Cedar Falls Community Credit Union -- ask about the Chad and Jamie Kaeppel Fire Fund.

Online Reporter Colleen O'Shaughnessy

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