At 6-foot 5-inches, crawling through a 16-by-16-inch hole with more than 50 pounds of gear is no easy task for Burbank Fire Engineer Matt Garland.
When it’s dark, smoky and loud and the floor moves like a teeter-totter, he lets muscle memory kick in.
“The main thing is to keep calm,” Garland said after climbing out of a manhole at the Burbank Fire Department Training Center Saturday morning.
Garland is one of 120 Burbank firefighters who took part in a three-day training course aimed at keeping firefighters alive.
Over the past decade, the number of fires has been decreasing nationwide, but the number of firefighters dying per fire has stayed constant, said Capt. Dave Schmitt, who helped design the new training regimen with the International Assn. of Fire Fighters.
A handful of fire departments have completed the program since it launched last year. Burbank is only the second agency in Los Angeles County to do so, Schmitt said.