WARREN, Ohio (WYTV) – At the Ohio Fire Academy in Reynoldsburg last week, firefighters said technology has changed the way they do their jobs, but the basics of firefighting have not changed.
A firefighter’s uniform used to be made of rubber, but it is more high-tech now.
“It is not fireproof. A lot of people think it is fireproof, but it is not. It does not burn until a very high temperature,” Warren Fire Capt. Jeff Younkins said.
It is one of the changes Younkins has seen in his career.
“It has changed a tremendous amount,” Younkins said.
“Equipment has gotten better, lighter, easier to handle,” Mark Sanders of the Ohio Association of Professional Firefighters said.
Firefighting runs in the blood for Sanders. His Dad was a firefighter.
“I have seen nearly 50 years of evolution in the fire service,” Sanders said.
Thermal imaging cameras are a major technology change. The electronic eyes let firefighters see where a person is when a room is pitch black and filled with smoke.
“Thermal imaging cameras are something Warren just got. I think we have five of them right now and that helps you do a seacrh,” Younkins said.
The cameras are a resources for firefighters, but Sanders said nothing can replace an actual firefighter.
“All that is great, but you need firefighters to do the job. There is nothing that can replace a firefighter entering the building, having a hose line, putting out the fire, doing rescues from a ladder. It is a very labor intense, personnel-driven job that really won’t change in that respect,” Sanders said.
Firefighter training is also evolving. Younkins said in Ohio, firefighters need 240 class hours to become a firefighter and after that, it’s 54 hours of training every three years.
“In Warren, we train every day,” he said.
State Rep. Sean O’Brien, D-Bazetta, got a taste of what training is like when he suited up in full fire gear and had to put out a fire and do search and rescue. He said it was valuable learning experience.
“We need the training, they need to have the protective equipment. It is necessary, so it is definitely a new appreciation,” O’Brien said.