Meet the expert of the worst-case scenario
Appeal Staff Writer
Dave Fogerson’s job is to make firefighters experts in situations in which there shouldn’t be an expert.
To do their job effectively, fire personnel need to knowledge in wildland, structural and aircraft fires, emergency medical procedures, hazardous materials, paramedic duties, weapons of mass destruction, technical rescue, auto extraction and fire prevention.
Fogerson teaches them what to do when buildings blow up, when chemicals interact, and when somebody is dying.
His ultimate goal is to help reduce the 100 deaths and 150,000 injuries to firefighters on average every year.
“Take engineers. They can know a building inside and out, but put fire in it. and they don’t know what will happen. Or a chemist – they know how chemicals can react in a lab, but add it to asphalt on a hot afternoon, and they might not know what will happen,” Fogerson said. “We have to be the experts when you hope you don’t need one.”
Fogerson, 32, is the safety-training captain for the East Fork Fire Protection District.
He is in his first year as chairman of the Nevada Fire Service Standards and Training committee.
The committee’s job is to establish the standards for all firefighters in Nevada.
“It takes a lot of consensus to find what will work for both the rural areas and in Clark County and other urban centers,” Fogerson said.
Even with the extra work that comes with helping to keep firefighters safe, Fogerson said he is right where he has wanted to be since he was 6 years old.
“The fire department came to my elementary school during a fire drill. They got on the roof and sprayed us all down with water, and I thought, ‘This is pretty cool,'” Fogerson said. “It’s too fun. This is too great a job that I don’t want to think about what to do next.”
Joking that he already has two careers – as a firefighter and as a teacher to other firefighters – Fogerson said he takes pride knowing he is always working to help people.
“There’s a lot of pride of ownership because you can’t teach mediocrity. You have to be at a mastery level to teach it,” Fogerson said.
He said it takes a unique type of person to deal with the things firefighters and paramedics see regularly.
“The good times are the calls where we were able to respond and fix their problem,” Fogerson said. “On the bad ones, you wish you could change the outcome, even when it’s out of your control.”
But, even on bad days, Fogerson said he can still remember why he loves his job.
“When you have someone in full (heart or respiratory) arrest, you bring them back. And then they come to see you with this person who was dead,” Fogerson said. “It’s truly a miracle.”
• Contact reporter Jarid Shipley at email@example.com or 881-1217.
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