May 14, 2013 7:35 PM by Cameron Polom, KSBY News

Lompoc firefighters get lessons from helmet cams

When Lompoc firefighters get video of a fire in progress, the department chief later goes over it like a football coach, breaking down his team's movements to see what worked and what didn't.

A camera mounted on a Lompoc firefighter's helmet caught a huge apartment fire on Sunday.

"It just makes us proud that we're doing a great job on our training," said Battalion Chief Mike Brown. "It's a great tool for us to look at afterwards, come back and talk about it, what went good, what went bad."

That's exactly what they did with Sunday night's footage of an apartment fire near downtown.

"What you're seeing right there is, he's pulling the attack line," said Brown as he described the video to a KSBY reporter.

After quickly laying lines and charging hoses, crews approached the flames. All the while, one resident was still trapped upstairs.

"As the flames, as you can see, are impeding on the stairway, you're sizing it up, you're trying to see how far that fire's extended, what our entry point is, what our exit point is," explained Brown. "The fire is coming out of the bedroom right there, and the door is further east of that location, so we've got to get on the other side."

Once inside, visibility is almost non-existent, making communication a top priority.

"It's very crucial to get a good size-up, pass on that information to my battalion chief, other incoming engines," said Brown. "What I'm trying to do is paint them a picture so they can see what I'm seeing."

The cameras also help them paint a picture of how they can do it better next time.

"Our learning point is making sure that the hose is in the proper position, and we're ready to make the attack," said Brown.

It took nine firefighters about 15 minutes to put the flames out.

One person was treated for minor injuries and the fire was contained to just one apartment, although other apartments did sustain smoke damage.



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