GASTONIA, NC (FOX 46) - Blistering fire and blinding smoke - you never really know what you're going to get as a firefighter. But as FOX 46 Charlotte's David Sentendrey explains, there's a lot more that goes into suiting up than taking on the flames.
Don't look down...
"Just anything and everything where someone can be injured and trapped, firefighters respond."
The Gastonia Fire Department is rappelling from four stories high.
"It's not just house fires anymore."
It's also ripping off doors with the jaws of life.
"They can cut school buses, tractor trailers, anything we come across."
Back in February, FOX 46 Charlotte went inside a burning building with the fire department. Now, we're showing folks just some of the tasks firefighters take on that you might not expect.
This time, our crew buckled up and rappelled off a building. It's a training exercise that the fire department says it needs to know.
"We never know what we're going to face."
Crowder's Mountain State Park is in Gastonia. It peaks at over 1,700 feet and the department says it performs rescue missions at the location.
"During the summer months at Crowder's Mountain, maybe five or six times, during the summer months."
the fire department says it's easy to have a safe hike - but some don't always follow the rules.
"Or trying to climb without the training or the proper equipment, that can get them in trouble."
With the jaws of life, of cutter, it can pry open a car door when someone is too injured to open it on their own. Or, the door could be jammed shut from an accident.
"Once or twice a week it can happen. We just never know."
There's a lot of rescues firefighters take on that folks might not expect. The Gastonia Department is equipped with naloxone, or narcan, to reverse the effects of heroin overdoses, which it sees regularly.
"We run to first responder calls for medical emergencies."
Firefighters might be called for a simple issue.
"It could be a problem with a water heater, an electrical problem in the house."
Or it might be a higher calling, whatever it is, there's a lot of training that goes into being ready to help folks get out alive.