Firefighters Practice Lifesaving Skills at GSA Buildings Slated for Demolition at San Ysidro Land Port of Entry

Firefighters completing an exercise

By Javier Fernandez

Dressed in protective suits and carrying specialized breathing equipment, 40 firefighters, representing 8 fire stations covering southern San Diego with the City of San Diego Fire-Rescue Department participated in mock drills and exercises at the San Ysidro Land Port of Entry (LPOE). The firefighting skills exercise took place on April 13th at two GSA owned buildings scheduled for demolition later this month as part of Phase 2 work of the San Ysidro LPOE modernization and expansion project. The land area occupied by the two buildings will be utilized to expand the new southbound pedestrian plaza.

The firefighters practiced lifesaving breaching techniques including forced door entry, breaking glass windows and entering as well as breaking through walls. Additionally, the training participants practiced “roof venting”, a technique that requires firefighters to cut holes on a structure’s roof. The purpose is to allow heat and toxic gasses to vent through the newly created holes in the roof. This reduces the amount of toxic gases firefighters are exposed to and greatly increases visibility inside the flaming structure. Lastly, this technique can help reduce the probability of backdrafts or flashovers occurring.

“Both buildings were instrumental in our training because of their construction. One being an arched roof and the other a metal roof with plywood,” said Captain Bowen Rynard of the San Diego Fire Rescue Department.

Close coordination between GSA Region 9’s Office of Regional Counsel, the San Ysidro LPOE project team and the City of San Diego Fire Rescue Department was needed to make this training event possible.

“I am glad GSA was able to offer the San Diego Fire Rescue Department the opportunity to use these buildings to practice their fire rescue skills,” said Jill Manzi, the Project Manager overseeing the Phase 2 project. “The fire department was so appreciative to utilize these buildings in their training to prepare their firefighters that serve this community.”

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