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Mine rescue training includes firefighting in Carson City

A team of firefighters practice battling flammable gas fire scenarios Thursday night as part of the week long Barrick Gold Emergency Preparedness and Response Global Mine Rescue Summit at Station 52 in Carson City.
Brad Coman / Nevada Appeal |

The night air may have been crisp Thursday night, however 30-foot flames helped to warm it up.

As a part of the Barrick Gold Emergency Preparedness and Response Global Mine Rescue Summit, firefighters from around the world met this week in Carson City and Reno to train and learn new techniques in order to be more effective with mine rescues.

The 45 firefighters met at Carson Fire Station 52 to practice their industrial firefighting, battling liquid petroleum flames.

“We are a mining company so we deal with many things and we want to make sure we have the resources for anything that may happen and be fully trained,” said Jorge Esteva, communications director for Barrick Gold. “To do that we have to fully engulf them.”

The rescuers came from all over the world including Winnemucca, Carson Valley, Elko and Carlin from Nevada and Chile, Canada, Peru, Papua New Guinea, the Dominican Republic, Argentina and Zambia.

“It has been an amazing experience to work with a diverse group of rescuers that come together to learn how people do it in various parts of the world,” said Miguel Segovia, of the Cortez, Nevada, site.

At the exercise Thursday, the firefighters practiced how to properly fight an industrial fire, by creating a wall of water large enough where someone can reach through and turn off the gas valve.

“This is industrial firefighting so it is useful in our world because it is practical to what we could experience,” Segovia said.

“My favorite part is getting into the fire, to feel the heat and get the adrenaline pumping.”

The flames the rescuers battled were intense, orange and yellow licked at the darkened night sky and the heat could be felt from 50 yards away.

Esteva said they have everyone go through the drill multiple times, switching positions on the hose each time to become familiar with each position.

“Each person has to go through different positions so they know what it takes,” Esteva said. “… They have to be able to jump in and take care of it and have all the trained resources available.”

The crews also learn how to work at different mining levels — surface, underground and high elevations — so they’re prepared for a mine rescue anywhere.

“We have people work from high level to sea level to surface to underground and they all come together and learn the same training and share the same experience,” Esteva said. “When we introduce them to something new and have the training so its not just (techniques for) what happens at your turf, but with the industry around the world.”

While having people come in from all over the world creates some difficulties with understanding, many agreed at the end language didn’t make much of a difference.

“It is really good, we’ve got the communication barrier, but the teamwork is great,” said Anna Lucci from Papua, New Guinea.

This was Lucci’s first year at the summit and she said she has been able to learn a lot of valuable knowledge.

“By coming here, we’ve gained a lot of training which we can go back and teach classes (about it at our sites),” Lucci said.

During the course of the week, the participants were able to conduct a number of trainings such as a high angle rope rescue, a vehicle extraction and a mass casualty incident, however, it was widely agreed this training was one of the favorites.

“This is the one we all wait for,” said Esteva, “When you get that close to the flames, it is just amazing.”