West Memphis Fire Department reviving SORT team
Specialized training makes top- notch FD even better
Things are literally looking up at West Memphis Fire Department after the Special Operation Rescue unit raised some heads around town rappelling from the Worthington Park water tower as part of Arkansas Fire Training Academy learning new techniques.
The training jumped all around the area too. They took some free jumps, rappelling off the top of the ladder truck at fire station one, granary towers on south loop and out at the Tier one facility as well. But Worthington Park had the most spectators as the training group slid down ropes from the water tower and traversed the bayou with rope rescue techniques.
Assistant Chief Jeff Jones explained the training.
“The training is part of an elite unit at the West Memphis Fire Department called the SORT unit which stands for Special Operations Rescue Team,” said Jones, “The team is in the rebuilding stages but is off to a great start with members being trained now.”
Two WMFD lieutenants, Trevor Brewer and Scott Simpson are part of SORT. The West Memphis Unit stems back to the 1990’s, started by retired training officer Doug Baker. The training marked a revival of sorts.
Just like rope work the SORT unit has had its ups and downs according to Jones.
“That’s because the type of training required just isn’t for everyone,” said Jones. “It takes a special kind of fire fighter to want to be trained and respond to situations that involve this type of training.”
The department looks to its SORT unit for high rescue like towers for cell phones, radio transmission, or water tanks and even trees. Whether tall spaces or small spaces the SORT is trained and ready.
“The members are trained to go into confined spaces like the inside of tanks, holes or storm drains,” said Jones. “The City of West Memphis is very fortunate to have such trained individuals that are willing to go the extra miler to carry on the elite SORT unit on the WMFD,” said Jones.
By John Rech