MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — We see a lot of fires on our newscast, and the one constant is the men and women suiting up, saving lives and putting out fires.

Recently, the Minneapolis Fire Department invited us out to see what it’s like to be in those emergency situations. And we learned those men and women do so much more than put out fires.

Natalie Nyhus fulfilled a childhood dream recently when the Minneapolis Fire Department invited her to suit up and become a firefighter.

Captain Catherine Vontraug led her around the training it takes to be a firefighter and what happens when crews first arrive on various scenes. A common call for the crew: crashes. Firefighters have a whole box of tools to get through mangled vehicles like the spreader, or as we sometimes call it, the “jaws of life.”

They can unleash 75,000 pounds of pressure to get through glass and to a victim. A pocket-sized hole punch busts right through.

Emergency situations can happen anywhere, taking firefighters to new heights. For a building rescue, they may need to enter a building through a window or exit down a building holding a civilian. Hands down the most intense part of the job is actual fire extinguishing.

“If you melt a shield, that’s usually a good indication that things are going very bad,” said Vontraug.

The suit, hood, helmet, mask are all made for an almost claustrophobic feel, and that’s before even entering a burning building. Natalie had to crawl through a dark, twisting hallway while dragging a heavy hose. Then, she encountered a blaze.

Minneapolis firefighters train hundreds of hours for countless emergency situations, but I found that despite being physically prepared, it’s your mental capacity that will determine your success.


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