OKC Fire Department Demonstrates Equipment To Save Earthquake Victims

Tuesday, February 2nd 2016, 2:59 pm
By: News 9

With more earthquakes shaking Oklahoma, Oklahoma City firefighters showed off their heavy duty rescue equipment on Tuesday.

They said they want residents to know they have the tools and training if a big earthquake ever collapsed buildings or schools.

Fire Station 8 near SW 15th and Penn is the only OKC fire station that responds to technical rescues and collapses.

“Where a lot of this is going to come in is that large concrete, so your big downtown buildings, your school, your colleges,” Lt. Josh Pearcy told News 9.

They said they never thought they would need to add earthquakes to that list.

“Originally, a lot of this stuff came out of California, a lot of the training and knowledge from those early 80s earthquakes. Didn't really think we'd get that in Oklahoma, but as they seem to be increasing, who knows what tomorrow brings us,” Pearcy explained.

They have listening devices that locate victims in rubble using these orange sensors.

“Then we'll start moving the sensors closer like a game of hot and cold,” Pearcy said.

The sensors can pick up the slightest drip of water.

“It's real important we have to have it really quiet and then even somebody barely talking or just tapping, it'll pick up,” Pearcy added.

The department has special cameras can see deep inside rubble and debris. They also have 90-pound jackhammers along with chainsaws that cut through concrete. This equipment would only be used for 1% or 2 % of victims who are trapped or entombed.

Searchers used many of the pieces for Briarwood and Plaza Towers Elementary Schools in the May 2013 tornadoes. The firefighters have spent a lot of years training for a lot of natural disasters.

“Earthquakes is just another one we'll probably handle as well as we do any other,” Pearcy said.

Firefighters train at least six times a year on the heavy duty equipment and March is the next training session.

The OKC fire department got some of that heavy equipment after the Murrah Building bombing in 1995 and those pieces are so robust, they still work just as well today.