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Getzville Rapid Intervention Training teaches firefighters how to rescue their own

Posted at 5:12 PM, May 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-16 18:34:17-04

AMHERST, N.Y. (WKBW) — Getzville Rapid Intervention Training, GRIT, is an annual course for firefighters where crews practice how to rescue their own.

"The only one who is going to come in for us is us. We need to train our people for when everything's gone wrong. We hope they don't encounter anything like we have in the building here, but we want to prepare them," Bob Zacher, a former chief for Getzville Fire Company, said.

Over the course of two days, firefighters practice removing other "dummy" firefighters from mock worst case scenarios. They're faced with challenges such as entangled wires, extreme temperatures, hoarding situations and zero visibility.

"They're based on actual firefighter fatalities. The hope is we can learn from those deaths and hopefully prevent them in the future," Zacher said.

"It's mentally, it's physically taxing. It's designed to bring you to a point where you need to fight through obstacles and overcome certain situations to succeed in the evolutions we create," Daniel Cownie, assistant chief for the Getzville Fire Company, said.

Zacher said around 10 different Western New York fire companies participated in the 2021 training course, but in the past there have been companies from Canada and out of state that have joined. GRIT was canceled last year due to COVID.

Firefighters say they hope these are the most extreme scenarios they will every face.

"All of this is probably the most stressful type of situation we can do in a safe manner," Zacher said.

"We strive for mental exhaustion, physical exhaustion to show firefighters they can overcome certain situations if one of the worst things imaginable happens," Cownie said.