Blair and Howell are attending a CSX training course in Pueblo, Colo. On Tuesday night, the pair noticed smoke and a fire engine, responding to offer any assistance they could.
“We saw the smoke and watched a fire engine head towards the area, and naturally, as a firefighter, we had to go see what was going on,” Blair said via Facebook.
There they found a commercial building in a city-block setting burning.
“We noticed that the size of the incident compared to the initial manpower on scene,” Blair said. “We felt compelled to assist any way we could.
“We saw someone coming with a large cooler and water and just jumped in and started to help them out.”
The two BCFD officers worked alongside two firefighters from the Chicago area to establish an initial rehab area and later helped with cleanup.
“… [We] assisted firefighters out of their SCBA [self-contained breathing apparatus] and turnout gear, gave them water and assisted with taking vital signs,” Blair said.
For BCFD Chief Craig Millsap, the captains’ actions are “characteristic” of firefighters everywhere and speak to the mentality of Bartow County firefighters.
“It’s just another example of how our guys don’t think of themselves, they think of others. That’s the mindset of the people who work here,” he said.
Millsap said the assistance Blair and Howell offered is necessary at a scene and relieved the responsible agency of a job many would see as grunt work.
“They’re willing to do anything. It’s in their nature,” he said.
BCFD last year sent two officers through the CSX Security & Emergency Response Training Center in Pueblo. The training partnership followed the derailing of a CSX train in fall of 2010 near the former Cloverleaf Elementary School.