Home Fire News St. Augustine firefighters train to handle calls with reptiles and exotic animals

St. Augustine firefighters train to handle calls with reptiles and exotic animals

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This is not exactly Firefighting 101. First responders in north Florida are participating in a first-of-its-kind training, working with gators and snakes.

The firefighters are getting up close and personal with various reptiles at St Augustine Alligator Farm.

In recent years, the number of creepy crawly calls in St Johns County has risen dramatically. So, the local fire dept took part in some hands-on training designed to teach firefighters how to better handle animal calls, especially when they are the first on the scene.

Part of the training course allowed some first responders to go face- to- face with venomous snakes and step down into the alligator pit.

A Firefighter learning
A Firefighter learning how to handle an alligator should he come across one at an emergency scene

While some firefighters had no problem at all getting up-close and personal with the snakes and alligators, there were a few that gladly scooted their seats back to sit as far away as they could.

During the course, first responders learn how to approach the animals and how to handle them with poles, rakes, and sticks– according to First Coast News.

Sometimes it isn’t just the flames or the victims of a fire that first responders have to deal with when responding to calls. In Florida especially, more and more, they are encountering exotic pets inside homes, and on porches.

“I think they get more of their fair share of calls for big creepy crawlies or scary things,” said Jim Darlington, who works at the Alligator Farm and leads the training course.

Firefighter Chris Pacetti says, “This training is not designed for us to become nuisance trappers and to call 911 because you see a venomous snake. It is for us to help mitigate accidents where people may be hurt or in trouble around them.”

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