Louisville's Mayor Gains Firefighter's Perspective During Live Burn Drill

Reprinted with Permission

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The mayor is usually in charge of the fire department. But for a few hot minutes on Thursday, he became part of the department he oversees.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer suits up as a firefighter.
(Steve Tellier/WLKY.com photo)

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer took part in a live burn exercise at the fire department's training facility to get a firsthand look at how the department works and what it needs to keep residents safe.

As a structure fire burned, the smoke-filled darkness inside was only pierced by a few flashlights -- one of them belonging to the mayor of Louisville.

"There was a small fire in there, but nothing like what these guys deal with every day," Fischer said.

Call it a chance for the mayor to learn more about the fire department he oversees or call it the hottest photo op you'll ever see.

WLKY Images: Mayor Fischer, Firefighter

"We thought it was a good opportunity to kind of expose him to what we do," said Capt. Salvador Melendez with the Louisville Fire Department.

"It's important that I can walk in their shoes for a little bit for a little episode like this so I can understand when they ask for different types of equipment, what the priorities are," Fischer said.

To do that, the mayor suited up, donned his own mayoral fire helmet and took part in a fire simulation exercise.

The mayor didn't sit on the sidelines -- in fact, far from it. Just like firefighters do every day, he headed right for the smoke and the flames.

"You've got a flashlight so you can see a couple feet ahead of you and you have a detector to see where the heat is and all that, but it's basically, as they say, organized chaos," Fischer said. "So you've got to stay low, follow the line out, make sure all your buddies are alive and get down."

For a few minutes, Fischer was inside a burning room that can cook to nearly 500 degrees Fahrenheit. But he emerged all smiles and said it was no sweat.

"He did fine. He did really well. We're pretty impressed," Melendez said.

"They operate as a fine-tuned team in there, you can see that," Fischer said.

"He got to basically walk in our shoes even if it was just for a few minutes and I hope that gave him some understanding," Melendez said.

The mayor said it did just that, and also gave him a newfound respect for what some of his more courageous employees do for a living.

"I've always appreciated our firefighters and I appreciate them even more now," Fischer said.

Thursday's simulation exercise was just the latest in a line of similar events Fischer has taken part in since being sworn in. He has also ridden along with police officer and filled potholes with public works crews.

Copyright 2011 by WLKY.com. ©2011 Hearst Properties Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Now thats a mayor right there. Why cant they all do that.

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