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ANDREW LEIBENGUTH/TIMES NEWS
Firefighters are routinely called to respond in a timely manner to fires, car accidents or whatever emergency is thrown their way. Firefighters at the American Hose Company in Tamaqua spent time practicing speed and safety during their search and rescue drills in a make-shift training area set up inside their station. The course involved firefighters putting their gear on and donning their oxygen mask in less than 60 seconds. To add to the training, firefighters were then given instructions in the dark, ranging from climbing thin ladders, crawling under "fallen debris" and setting up a portable extension ladder.This form of training was put to use over the weekend in Schuylkill County when a large section of row homes in Shenandoah lost power after becoming engulfed in flames late Saturday night. Firefighters had to clear the homes one by one, while the homes were still on fire. Firefighters pointed out that before the invention of oxygen masks and fire/heat protective firefighter gear, firefighters would focus on the outside of a burning structure, rather than entering the structure and putting the firefighter's life in danger.