A day in the life of a Houston firefighter

HOUSTON In a job where every second counts and risk is common, firefighters find themselves staring in the face of danger day in and day out.

While they spend months training, Eyewitness News spent just one day in firefighters' shoes, joining in the intense test of strength and stamina by several Houston City Council members and staffers.

In a safe, controlled environment, the crash course is an introduction for everyday people to the fast-pace rigors Houston firefighters are forced to endure. It included learning a high angle technical rescue using a one-inch tubular piece of nylon that is so strong, it can hold 4,000 pounds.

To do their jobs effectively, firefighters must cover themselves from head to toe in triple-layered gear made from state-of-the-art, fire-resistant material that can withstand excessive heat and force. It's extremely confining and somewhat claustrophobic, but it's the only way firefighters can survive the intense heat.

Inside a simulation chamber, the temperature at the ceiling -- the hottest part of the fire -- was as high as 700 degrees; and getting disoriented is easy, so teamwork and communication are critical. One small mistake or one wrong move could cost someone their life. It's a risky business with no room for error; every second truly does count.

Click here to see Andy Cerorta's attempt at a high angle rescue and the challenges he faced in the line of fire.

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