Can You Handle the Heat?

By Matt Markham

April 27, 2011 Updated Apr 27, 2011 at 6:27 PM EDT

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) They're people you often see but rarely call upon -- until a second where everything can change. Firefighters go through intense training to prepare for the one call from you when life may be on the line.

"Fire doubles in size every minute, so time is definitely important," said Binghamton fire training chief Rick Allen.

If your home is up in flames, or you're the one putting it out, minutes are more like seconds.

That's especially true for eight trainees for Binghamton and Cortland.

"Whenever fire is involved, it can't really be 100% safe, so it's scary and you've got to use that fear and be very respectful of your surroundings," said Jesse D'Onofrio.

Flames surround the room in the practice trailer preparing these men for a real response.

"It's dark. It's obviously a lot different than the movies show it. And you've got the heat, your adrenaline is pumping," said Nick Griswold.

"I'm one of the few here in our class that has no volunteer experience," D'Onofrio said. "So everything is fresh to me."

"You want to train the same as you play as they say. Do everything you would do if you're walking in to this trailer or walking in to a situation where the entire front of a structure is up in flames," D'Onofrio said.

It isn't just a live burn that practice entails. The exercise routine alone is tough. Part of that just includes getting your gear together.

"On average, a Scott Pack weighs about 20 to 25 pounds. Usually a firefighter with full gear on has about 50 pounds," Allen said.

"We've been training with putting our gear on really quick, and we want to get off the truck without our face piece on, because it limits our visibility," Griswold said.

All of this so firefighters can make quick work to extinguish the flames and for many of them, kindle lifelong dreams.

"That's the goal, after I've gotten my 20-25 years that I wake up every day and say 'I get to go to work today,"' D'Onofrio said.

Our special reports continue Thursday with a look at how first responders handle emergencies in the harshest weather conditions.