No, there wasn't a major fire at the old Sonoco Paper Co. this weekend. Those fire trucks and emergency personnel you saw along Brandywine Avenue were getting hands-on training in "Truck Company Operations."Firefighters from Alert Fire Co. No. 1, Minquas Fire Co. No. 2, the Coatesville Fire Department, and the Lionville Fire Department spent Saturday and Sunday in a class designed for fire companies that have and use ladder trucks in their fire-fighting efforts. The classes and training were conducted by an outside company called Traditions Training whose instructors are current and past firefighters and officers from New York City, Washington DC and Kentland, Md.

"It was a great class and everybody was beat by the end," said Lt. Jeff Stevens of the Alert Fire Co. No. 1. "Which means we had a great weekend."

Stevens described the training as a very aggressive, high energy, fast paced, "real-world" applications training.

"It's experience based fire department training," he said. "The classes at the state level are more of by the book training. This was more of a street smart approach. Doing it by the book with a little different technique."

Stevens said he was happy to see firefighters come in from larger departments to conduct the classes and training.

"It's always neat to have the guys from the big city teaching you a different technique," he said.

The in-class work ran from 8 a.m. to noon on both Saturday and Sunday, with on-site hands-on training taking place from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. The Saturday topics focused on various aerial apparatus' such as ladder towers.

"We went over apparatus placement, where the fire and smoke is showing. We covered forceable entry, search and rescue of victims," said Stevens. "There are several different ways to get through doors and windows."

Sunday's training focused more on rooftop ventilation, and again on search and rescues, as well as victim removal.

According to Stevens, the Coatesville Fire Department was using a ground ladder and smashing out windows on the first and second floors.

"They were doing a vent enter search," he said. "A lot of times we use this technique when there is a fire on the first floor. What you do is throw a ladder up to the second floor and enter through the window.

"One fireman will search and the other will close the door and keep the fire out of the bedroom. It takes a lot of practice."

Stevens said the nice thing about the training and classes were that they allowed the newer firefighters to get good, solid hands-on training.

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