A volunteer firefighter was injured Wednesday evening during training at the William Waugh Fire Academy. Jamie Empfield, of White Township, a member of the Indiana Fire Association, was sent first to Indiana Regional Medical Center, then was transferred to UPMC-Presbyterian in Pittsburgh. A hospital spokeswoman said this morning that Empfield was in fair condition. Empfield is a staff photographer at The Indiana Gazette.
The accident occurred during an unconscious-victim rescue simulation, said Fire School Director Tom Stutzman. Empfield and three other firefighters were lowering a 180-pound dummy by ladder from the third floor of a tower, Stutzman said. He said a firefighter on the ladder above Empfield lost his grip or became fatigued and fell with the dummy, knocking Empfield to the ground. Empfield fell about 8 feet to a gravel-covered surface.
Stutzman said 10 firefighters were taking the Firefighter I Certification Preparation Program, which is required for a national firefighter certification.
The certification is not for beginners, according to Stutzman. Firefighters must complete an essentials program, structure-fire training, first aid, CPR and hazardous-materials training, submit a lengthy written application and be interviewed by fire company officers before being accepted for the training.
Firefighters from Lower Burrell and Kittanning also were enrolled in the training program Wednesday.