Local firefighters training with new tool to bail out of burning buildings

$300,000 grant will give every Lynchburg fire fighter the new 'bail out' tool

LYNCHBURG, Va. – Escaping a burning building head first is a moment some firefighters may never experience, but must be prepared for. 

On Tuesday Lynchburg firefighters listened to real-life radio chatter of some New York firefighters' last moments. 

In 2005, six firefighters went into a building, got trapped and had to jump four stories to escape the flames. Two died instantly.

They didn't have the new "bail out" device.

"We are the first in the region to have this and hopefully this sparks firefighter safety, personal firefighter safety," Patrick Madigan, master firefighter, said.

A nearly $300,000 grant will put the new rope and harness in the hands of every Lynchburg firefighter on-call. Madigan wrote the grant. 

"While the department gives us awesome equipment and gear everything has us getting further into fires, we haven't been issued anything that helps us get out in case we get in trouble," Madigan said.

First responders will train all week with the new device to escape from a 19-foot tall trailer.

"The odds are luckily in the favor they'll never experience a bail out, emergency bail out or a head-first bail out. It's my job to try to convince them, regardless of whether it's happened to them or not, that the possibility exists," Larry Cohen, retired lieutenant with FDNY and trainer, said.

"Our main purpose is not only protecting the citizens and the community at large, but we want to be able to go home to our families, as well. Being able to see the guy next to me that I'm going in with has an opportunity to go home to his family, that's very important to us," Madigan said.