Firefighters learn to make lifesaving second nature |

Firefighters learn to make lifesaving second nature

Fire fighters learn to get themselves out of trouble with a bottle wrap bailout. They punch a hole in the wall near a window, wrap their rope around the handle, and rappel to safety.
Randy Wyrick| |

VAIL — Firefighters don’t just seem to know how to do all those rescue things — they really do.

In fact, they need all that know-how before they can call themselves firefighters.

That’s why rookie Vail firefighters Jake Engle and Ryan Schoenike spent all day Monday hauling fellow firefighter Jake Hartman up and down ladders, out windows and making sure they didn’t drop him.

And they didn’t. Not once.

It’s comforting to know that they know how to do that, and so much more. At some point they’re going to need all that knowledge and training. And they did it while draped in 100 pounds of gear.

For example, Engle and Schoenike were training under the watchful eye of Engineer Dustin Elliott. They passed Hartman out the window — there’s a proper way to do it — made sure he was secure sideways across their ladder and slid him to safety.

They take it seriously and do it right, every time, making sure the person they’re rescuing does not get jostled or bumped into anything.

“The general public is not wearing a helmet or protective clothing,” Elliott said.

After you’re out the window and on your way to safety, they practice what they call the bottle wrap bailout. Basically, a firefighter can pound a hole through the wall by a window secure a 60-foot line to their ax sticking through that hole, and rappel to safety from as high as five stories up.

A rookie’s day starts at 6 a.m. with an hour and a half of physical training, then the rest of the day in specialized situational training, until after 5 p.m.

They don’t have any trouble sleeping.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and