Crawling on their knees, members of the Miami Lakes council and staff worked their way into a burning building Wednesday afternoon.
Minutes later, the fire was out.
“That was intense,” said Mayor Wayne Slaton, as he emerged from the mock single-family home at the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Department's headquarters in Doral.
Slaton took part in the “firefighter for a day” training program with the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Department, along with Vice Mayor Manny Cid, Councilman Nelson Rodriguez, Town Manager Alex Rey and Carlos Fleites from Miami-Dade County Commissioner Esteban Bovo Jr.’s office.
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“When you get a taste of the training, it gives you a greater appreciation of what these men and women go through,” Slaton said.
Fire crews taught the group how to properly use and control a fire hose, how to use an air-pack, also known as a Self Contained Breathing Apparatus, along with fire safety lessons.
As part of their training, Slaton and company were tasked with climbing an aerial ladder onto a roof, and putting out a kitchen fire and a car fire inside a mock single-family home that the department uses for training exercises.
“They did great,” said Rodriguez, who took part in the training activity after completing a 24-hour shift with the Coral Gables Fire Department where he has worked for the past 27 years.
Rodriguez contacted the county fire department about organizing the training day, after Cid made a comment to him about wanting to climb an aerial ladder during a town event.
“I told him ‘I’d like to show you what firefighters go through’ and he was on board,” Rodriguez said.
Cid was enthusiastic at his turn to do the ladder exercise. “That was fun,” he said.
Rodriguez, along with crews with the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Department, helped the group out with their gear and provided encouragement during the training.
“I was excited that the council cares enough about public safety to spend a day learning about what firefighters do,” said Rodriguez. “And they just got a taste of it.”
The training course proved to be more of a challenge than Rey initially anticipated.
“Physically it’s harder than what I expected it to be,” said Rey, after completing the kitchen and car fire task.
Rey went on to say that, he appreciated the firsthand experience, Cid agreed.
“I think it’s fantastic,” Cid said, adding that he is looking forward to telling residents about this experience. “These guys are out there providing the best services that they can, I think it’s the best service in the nation.”
By the end of the training day, Chief Jeff Strickland, who is the head of the training and safety division for the department, praised the group for doing an “outstanding,” job.
He then invited them back for round two.
“I don’t know if you like the water but we could bring you back and go over our water rescue program,” Strickland said. "Miami Lakes is the home of our dive rescue program."
The group appeared curious about the water training, although no word yet on if they’ll be taking the course.
Meanwhile Rodriguez said he was happy to be able to show colleagues what firefighters and other first responders experience daily.
“It was a privilege to share my profession,” he said.