Stressing safety while fighting fires - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Stressing safety while fighting fires

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CARTERVILLE, Ill. -- Local fire officials say their job is unpredictable, and incidents like what happened in Bethalto, Ill., can happen anywhere without warning.

But they're still dedicated to keeping the community safe.

"We're showing up at somebody's worst time," Carterville Fire Chief Ron Rains said. "It's the worst day they've ever had and we don't know if its, so-to-speak, a cat in the tree, or we have a fully-involved house fire; a one-room house fire, a basement fire, you just never know."

Rains, the fire chief in Carterville since 2015, has been a firefighter since 1991.

"The biggest, most-important thing as far as I'm concerned is the safety of your guys," Rains said. "And arriving on-scene, it's very imperative that you do a walk around of the building to see exactly what you have."

Tuesday in Bethalto, roughly 30 miles from St. Louis, Captain Jacob "Jake" Ringering died after part of a building collapsed during a fire.

Similar incidents have happened in our region.

Corey Shaw died fighting a fire in Pinckneyville in 2011 and Kevin Reveal died in 1996 after a fire in Hurst.

"No fire chief would ever put somebody in danger for a building," Rains said. "But things are ever changing, all the time."

There are things firefighters do to make sure they're safe, including seven weeks of training before they start and on-going education during their careers.

"You have to keep training or you lose that edge," Rains said.

Rains said communication is also key but it's also where things tend to break down.

"We know what we want to say, but we tend to not to get the message across," Rains said.

Rains says every call is different so every response is different.

But safety of the firefighters is at the forefront of every decision.

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