Conway Fire Department gets rare search and rescue training

CONWAY, Ark. — Every second counts when firefighters storm into a home filled with smoke to save someone’s life.

It’s not often they get the real-life scenario training they need to sharpen those skills.

But the City of Conway got a grant to purchase eight vacant homes along South Donaghey, and the fire department is sending crews inside for the type of training that’s hard to come by.

Six Conway firefighters geared up Wednesday to tackle search and rescue training mimicking exactly what they’ll face during a rescue.

“We went in to do a primary search of the house and locate any victims inside,” said Cpt. Chad Upton.

With smoke so thick, the team crawled through the home, searching for victims while time ticked.

“The more efficient we are, going in looking for somebody, the quicker we can get them out and the higher probability of survival,” said Upton.

The team pulled out the dummy found in one of the bedrooms, then immediately tackled the smoke inside the home.

“Positive pressure” training is something the department said is a rare opportunity, especially since it’s happening in a place that firefighters don’t have memorized.

“They know the layout of the building,” said Upton. “When we put them in here, they don’t know the floor plan, so it comes as surprise to them. It’s more realistic. That’s what we owe to the citizens of Conway, to protect them to the best of our ability.”

The city purchased the homes running along Spring Creek. Their plan is to demolish the houses after flooding numerous times and incorporate the area into the trail and parks system.

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