Training leaves Oakdale-area firefighters at the end of their rope

Firefighters never know when they’re going to need a quick exit from a rooftop or upper floors of a burning building.

That’s why members of the Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Protection District and the Oakdale city and rural fire crews converged at the former Riverbank Army Ammunition Plant for a week of training that concluded Saturday.

They were participating in rope survival training conducted by Nicholas Meiges, an engineer for Stanislaus Consolidated.

Firefighters spent some time in the classroom before going to the top of a 50-foot structure on the former plant’s property on Claus Road.They were given a 50-foot rope and had to repel to the ground.

“The initial rush is when you first step off the top of that structure,” Meiges said on Saturday. “There’s a fraction of a second between the time that you are controlling your own stability by being vertical on your feet and as you lean backwards and the rope takes over, there’s that fraction of a second you’re thinking, ‘What on earth am I doing?’“Once you get by that and you start to descend, most guys really enjoy it.”