Sterling Heights Firefighters Are #1

A team of firefighters from Sterling Heights took first place in the Regional Extrication Team Challenge, sponsored by the Regional Alliance for Firefighter Training (RAFT), held Thursday, June 10, at Henry Ford Community College in Dearborn, MI. They will go on to compete in the international competition, to be held Sept. 21-25 in Coral Gables, FL. The International Association of Fire Chiefs governs both events, Transportation Emergency Rescue Committee (TERC).

"Everyone is a winner here today," said John Childs, Sterling Heights Fire Chief and a member of the RAFT Executive Committee. "The knowledge that we gained will help save lives and serve the public better."

Placing second overall was START Rescue, with Farmington Hills third. Livonia finished first in the unlimited tool scenario, followed by Farmington Hills and START. Sterling Heights took first place in the limited tool scenario, followed by Ecorse and START. Other teams competing were Dearborn Fire Department (two teams), Detroit Fire Squad One, Muskegon Charter Township, Riverview Fire Department, Taylor Fire Department and Trenton Fire Department.

Twelve teams participated in the Team Challenge, each undertaking two, 20-minute scenarios in which mannequins were trapped in new vehicles damaged and positioned to simulate a severe collision. Teams used only hand tools in the first scenario; in the second scenario, they had all tools available - including hydraulics.

Ford Motor Co., which has a long-standing commitment to consumer safety, provided 50 vehicles from the 1998-2000 model years that were demolished and configured to simulate actual crash conditions. Following yesterday's competition, Dennis Lark, Ford Motor Co. senior program coordinator, announced that Ford will again provide vehicles for next years competition.

The Team Challenge was the culmination of a two-day educational milestone for the fire rescue community in Southeast Michigan, where the latest and most effective techniques for saving victims trapped in vehicular accidents were discussed and demonstrated. Nearly 200 fire-rescue professionals from Southeast Michigan attended a Learning Symposium on June 9 conducted by noted experts.

RAFT is a regional partnership of Southeast Michigan fire departments and community colleges dedicated to ensuring that firefighters are highly trained professionals fully equipped to effectively save lives and property. Formed with the assistance of the Metropolitan Affairs Coalition (MAC), the organization promotes teamwork and collaboration among local fire departments and community colleges. "The goal is to achieve the highest quality of training at the lowest practical cost," said Jack McArthur, RAFT Chairperson and Dearborn Fire Chief.