published Sunday, June 29th, 2014

Embedded: On the job as Lt. Rains helps cast men of mettle with fire

WHOSE VIEW?

Name: Jason Rains

Age: 39

Job: Lieutenant with Chattanooga Fire Department

Years in the job: 15 with the Chattanooga Fire Department, 2.5 years as an instructor

Best part: “Being able to take the experiences that I’ve had and learned from and to help teach and mold the new cadets into the type of firemen and women that we need out there.”

Worst part: “When you have a recruit that isn’t up to standards and you have to let them go.”

  • photo
    Chattanooga Fire Department Training Instructor Lt. Jason Rains works with academy recruits as they participate in natural gas extinguishing drills at the CFD training facility at Moccasin Bend on May 16, 2014. Twenty-Five recruits are half way through the 26-week program, some will graduate to become Firefighters in September.
    Photo by Dan Henry /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Lt. Jason Rains has just about seen it all.

He spent more than 10 years as a firefighter on one of Chattanooga’s busiest stations — Station Five on Willow Street — before switching to become an instructor for the city’s fire academy.

Now he teaches new recruits how to do what he did: how to be the first person on scene, how to safely negotiate a fire, how to watch out for your crew, how to deal with the tough calls.

“It’s the greatest job in the world, you’ll see stuff you shouldn’t see, but that’s part of it,” he said.

That’s what he tells each batch of recruits during every 26-week training academy.

“I wrote one word on the board this morning when [the recruits] came in, and that was ‘safety,’” he said, taking a break during an evening of hands-on fire training near Moccasin Bend.

The recruits are practicing on what Rains calls the ‘Christmas tree.’ It’s a three-pronged contraption that spews gas (and fire, when lit). The recruits must get scaldingly-close to the 1,000 degree flames to quash the fire with a hand-held extinguisher. For some, it’s their first encounter with real heat.

Rains walked the recruits through every step of the process as they practiced first on the Christmas tree, then in a pit, then on the ground.

Rains does the training at night both because it’s more realistic and because it’s easier for beginners to see and navigate the flames. Every firefighter works with a partner, so that the fighter in the back can keep a hand on his partner’s shoulder and yank him out if the surroundings change suddenly or the fire loops around.

“Both in here and out with a company, you want to go home at the end of the day the same way you came to work,” Rains said. “With all 10 fingers and 10 toes, and with no injuries.”

If you have an idea for Embedded, contact staff writer Shelly Bradbury at 423-757-6525 or sbradbury@timesfreepress.com.

about Shelly Bradbury...

Shelly Bradbury covers police and crime in Chattanooga and Hamilton County for the Times Free Press. She's been with the paper since 2012, working first as an intern and then as a business reporter. She is from Houghton, New York, and graduated from Huntington University in Huntington, Indiana, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and minor in management. Before moving to Tennessee, Shelly previously interned with The Goshen News, The Sandusky Register and The Mint ...

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