FAIRHAVEN – Firefighters conducted an unusual search and rescue drill this week, rehearsing how they would help someone stuck inside one of Fairhaven’s two turbines.
Each of the 10 firefighters and paramedics who participated in the training had a chance to climb the 280-foot ladder inside the turbine leading to its generator room.
The crew also was shown the ins and outs of the turbine by its maintenance crew, learning how to cut power to the turbine in case of an emergency and how to navigate the trap doors and platforms within the turbine tower.
“It definitely would be a unique rescue to conduct,” Fairhaven Officer of Fire Education Wayne Oliveira said. “We needed to be familiar so that if we ever have to take care of anybody up there we know how to get in, what to look for and how to get them out.”
Turbine operator Sumul Shah noted that the ladder inside the turbine is “very difficult for the average person to climb” and the amount of equipment a fire and rescue team would need to bring into the turbine would “make it that much more difficult.”
“We wanted to make sure they know what they are up against and what the climb is like before they are in an emergency situation,” he said.
Shah is not entirely a stranger to turbine rescue missions. In December, a worker at a turbine he manages in Hanover fell 24 feet into the turbine despite wearing a harness.
The worker fell on a platform almost 40 feet above ground level and it took rescue crews more than an hour to get him out through a series of hatchways. He was later treated for non-life-threatening injuries.
“Through that unfortunate experience, we learned a lot about how to maneuver someone on a stretcher through the hatches,” Shah said.
He said the rescue training in Fairhaven had been planned before the Hanover incident.
Oliveira said the practice helped his team to be prepared for the future.
“This way we are up to speed on all the different requirements that go along with having a turbine in your town,” he said. “Now we’re just hoping we won’t ever need to use these skills.”
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