El Paso Fire Department crews undergo tower training

Hundreds of feet above the scorching desert, two fire fighters – in full gear – scaled a tower in Far-East El Paso County to save a man. But it was only a drill.

On July 28, the El Paso Fire Department Combined Search and Rescue team trained at the Flager Tower in the Montana Vista area. The purpose of the training was to simulate a tower worker in distress needing assistance to descend.

fire2“There have been similar situations in the past,” Lt. Gilberto Ramirez said. “We need to train for these types of scenarios. There are many of these towers at the top of the Franklin Mountains.”

FF Roberto Reyes, FST David Mcwatters and FST Daniel Vallejo were the members who scaled the tower for the training exercise. 

“It was a phenomenal training,” Mcwatters said. “It’s not that often that we get to train on a tower. It was something a little different for the ComSAR team. The climb up with the meat hooks is pretty taxing on the forearms. You’re supposed to try to use your legs as much as you can. But the truth is you’re grabbing those meat hooks every couple of steps and holding on. It wears you out.”

Complicating the matters was the ominous clouds that quickly moved in that day.