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Fall attends 'awesome' Municipal Fire School

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

Pictured: During a presentation on Friday, Oct. 31, Bandera County Farm Bureau President Barbara Mazurek presented Vanderpool firefighter John Fall with funding to attend the prestigious Municipal Fire School at the campus of the Texas A&M University last summer. Also attending the ceremony were, from left, Vanderpool VFD Assistant Chief Al Buckner, Fire Chief Doug King and Farm Bureau Director Anton Haner.

With a little help from the Bandera County Farm Bureau, John Fall, a firefighter with the Vanderpool Volunteer Fire Department, successfully completed the 85th annual Municipal Fire School this summer.
Fall, along with nearly 3,000 other Texas firemen, graduated from the fire school, held last July at the Brayton Fire Training Field on the campus of Texas A&M University in College Station. Each year, the local farm bureau and the Texas Farm Bureau Insurance Companies sponsor a fireman from a local fire department to attend the advanced school. More than 125 county farm bureaus have sent firefighters to the school.
According to Farm Bureau President Barbara Mazurek, county VFDs that receive the scholarship rotate annually. "We go alphabetically by fire departments," she explained during a presentation ceremony on Friday, Oct. 31. At that point, the individual departments identify a firefighter who would benefit from the training process.
Firefighting personnel from more than 750 cities in 25 states attend the annual school. Professional educational opportunities include specialized fire suppression and rescue techniques, emergency dispatching, officer training and fire investigation, among other classes.
One unique experience still looms large in Fall's mind - an exercise designated as "the smoke room." As Fall explained, "It's a blacked out room that's filled with smoke. You're required to put on your gear and airtanks and crawl around the room looking for a victim who might be unconscious. This is a time sensitive exercise and definitely is not for anyone who might be claustrophobic. No one looks forward to the 'smoke room' exercise."
Other exercises and classes which proved helpful included learning different techniques for dealing with propane- and diesel-fueled fires. "It's one thing to sit and talk about a situation, but it's another to get out there and actually do something," he said. "The heat brings a sense of urgency to the situation."
Fall thanked Mazurek and other members of the board of directors for giving him an opportunity to attend the prestigious firefighting school. "I really appreciate your assistance," he said. "It was awesome."
Responding in kind, Mazurek noted, "It's our hope in sponsoring this program that John and the other firemen in the Vanderpool VFD will better serve the residents of Bandera County."