LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Thousands of Los Angeles Fire Department personnel Tuesday took part in a training session to provide survival skills to firefighters.

About 9,000 firefighters from 31 departments throughout the Southland took part in the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Fire Ground Survival Training Program at the LAFD training center in Elysian Park, officials said.

Funded by the IAFF and assisted by a grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the training equips firefighters to perform potentially lifesaving actions if they ever face a situation in which they become lost, disoriented, injured, trapped, or low on air.

One “evolution,” or simulated training scenario, posted on the LAFD’s Instagram page showed a firefighter crawling through a narrow gap between two jammed sliding doors .

KCAL9’s Jeff Nguyen also got a chance to suit up and see what it feels like to face a life-threatening situation. Strapping on 100 pounds of gear, the first lesson: how to get out of a collapsed building.

“Everything that we teach in this derived from a line of duty death. Somebody died in the event that we will be teaching you,” L.A. City Fire Dept. Capt. Andrew Ruiz told him.

A personal alarm system and a bright light are used to help firefighters find colleagues in trouble.

“When it’s smoky, when it’s hot and you can’t see anything, now your eyes – that part is gone.  Now these become your eyes,” Ruiz explained, gesturing with his hands.

Whether it’s rappelling from a building or crawling out of a window – the goal is to stay cool under fire.

“Once you start to panic, you start to breath faster. And when you breath faster, you use your air faster. And once your air is gone you only have a few options after that,” Ruiz said.

In a message posted to his Twitter account, United Firefighters of Los Angeles President Frank Lima called the event a “historical training day”.

The LAFD obtained a grant for over $525,000 to fund this program, according to Capt. Jamie Moore.


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