Firefighters being trained to keep themselves safe during inters - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Firefighters being trained to keep themselves safe during interstate runs

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A firefighter cleans up gear on the side of the road after the accident that killed Jonathan French. A firefighter cleans up gear on the side of the road after the accident that killed Jonathan French.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Firefighters say the Interstate is the most dangerous place they can be and many find themselves working there on a weekly basis. 

The dangers were amplified two weeks ago when Glendale firefighter Jonathan French, 25, was hit and killed while responding to a van fire on I-65.

French's death has prompted departments across the state to brush up on safety procedures. The Kentucky Department of Transportation is helping responders do that by reminding them about safety classes hosted across the state.

Following French's death, many volunteer firefighters came forward with allegations that the transportation cabinet pressures them to keep highways open while responding to emergencies. Transportation officials deny the allegations, however, saying that first responders can close lanes whenever they deem necessary.

"I'm not exactly sure where that came from," said safety instructor with KYTC Shane Ratliff. "I have yet to tell people they can't shut the roadway down."

The class has been around for one year. It goes over ways to protect first responders from the dangers of working on or near a highway.

Danville firefighters attended the session in Boyle County Thursday. Battalion Chief Doug Simpson said French's death is a reminder to review safety procedures.

"Unfortunately it takes an accident sometimes to revisit these policies," he said. "I'm almost certain that every department head went back and took a look at what their policy is."

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet says out of the 1,400 responders who have taken the class since it's inception, none were Glendale Firefighters.

But in the next ten years, they hope to train every responder in the state.

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