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AUBURN — Volunteer firefighters learned how to deal with the hazards of an interior blaze at a training session in Auburn Saturday.

Firefighters from Sennett, Weedsport, Union Springs and other departments underwent training on indoor fires at the Cayuga County Fire Training Tower in Auburn. Volunteers have been in classes to become certified in handling interior fires.

Auburn Fire Department Capt. Matt Quill, who led the course, told attendees that communication would be key and encouraged them to learn as they went through everything.

"Today's pace depends on you. If you're lagging and this and that, it's going to be a long day," Quill said.

Quill said the volunteers would be putting out an indoor fire in a controlled environment while also getting a sense of how conditions would be in an actual incident within the realistic environment that could be provided.

The other trainers present started a fire with hay and pallets in a training building, demonstrating how the smoke rose to the top of the room, across the ceiling, and then downward. Three groups of firefighters then had to maneuver their way from one end of the building's first floor to the other to put water on the fire while dealing with darkness and smoke.

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The firefighters were in good spirits, often joking and talking among themselves while they weren't preparing to go into the building, often doing small dances in order to stop an alarm equipped to them which went off when they stood still for too long. The alarm is meant to notify others when a firefighter is immobile during an emergency, getting louder and louder the longer they go without moving. 

Rick Saxton, second assistant chief for the Fleming Fire Department, said this kind of program wasn't available when he was getting started in the 1970s.

"Now you have the opportunity to learn in a controlled environment before you go into a burning building," Saxton said.

Ryan Sabal, a volunteer with the Union Springs Fire Department, said he was extremely hot being in the training building and that he couldn't see anything while he was there. He said the training over the past few months had been challenging but enjoyable, and that he believes he is better equipped to handle an actual fire emergency while maintaining personal safety. 

Quill said he felt the volunteers had been doing well in the course.

"We want to make sure they get a lot out of it," he said. "We're not here to just put fires out, we're here to teach them how to put fires out."

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Staff writer Kelly Rocheleau can be reached at (315) 282-2243 or kelly.rocheleau@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @KellyRocheleau.

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