By: Jason Rantala
Firefighters know they could be putting their lives on the line every time they're called on.
The Des Moines Fire Department prepares for the absolute worst-case scenarios through drills they run at their station four times each year.
They run both a rescue drill and a tunnel drill, where they navigate through tight spaces in full gear.
In the rescue drill, the department's Rapid Intervention Team is told they need to rescue a downed firefighter from a smoke filled room, all while in complete darkness.
"As a department we're not used to having to do too many firefighter rescues so this is really good training to make sure we still have our skills in case we need to," said Firefighter Travis Kuefner.
In the tunnel drill, firefighters experience everything from wall studs and hanging wires to small spaces, all while in full gear with an air tank strapped on.
It typically takes firefighters about fives minutes to contort their way through the tunnel.
"It's hot, exhausting, you've just got to be fit and able to go through," said Department Engineer Frank Roggio.
"The biggest thing is being comfortable with the equipment that you have on. Once you're comfortable with it in an emergency, you'll be able to get through it," said Fire Captain Steve Brown.
Brown says these "worst-case" drills are necessary, since they show exactly what firefighters need to work on.
"We try to train in worst case scenarios, versus the other way," said Roggio.
The department now has the room to run these drills after moving into their larger space in east Des Moines.
They've always done drills, just not on this large of a scale.