Fire departments across Texas ordered to focus on safety


Just imagine battling a fire, wearing 75 pounds of equipment. Black smoke is filling the air and the roof could collapse at any minute.

"This training evolution we have here, the exact reason we do it is because of what just happened to fellow firefighters," said Bellaire firefighter paramedic Nathan Minich.

It's been a week since four Houston firefighters were killed while battling a five-alarm fire at a motel/restaurant in southwest Houston.

This year has been one of the deadliest for firefighters across the state. Eighteen have already been killed in the line of duty. On Friday, local unions asked fire departments statewide to, in their words, stand down.

"It's a call to evaluate what we do and what can we do to make it safer," said Bellaire Fire Chief Darryl Anderson.

Bellaire firefighters already train together every day, but on Friday, they worked in high gear. That means classroom instruction and fitness tests.

"You get out of step with one thing and a chain of events will happen at that point and things will just go downhill," said Commander Albert Figueroa with the Bellaire Fire Department. "So if everybody's on top of their game and doing what they're supposed to do, everything will just fall into place and everybody will go home."

Houston firefighters were supposed to take part in the training exercises, too, but postponed them due to funerals for two of the firefighters who died in Friday's fire.

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