Some Des Moines firefighters are learning how to handle protesters who try to disrupt special events by chaining and locking themselves to things. Fire Department spokesman Brian O’Keefe says it’s in preparation for the National Governor’s Conference that’s coming to Des Moines later this year. He says training dollars became available to train law enforcement and firefighters in case there are protests. O’Keefe says a specialist is helping firefighters learn how to deal with the protesters who chain themselves together. He says people can be creative in trying to keep from being hauled away. He says they’ll take a p-v-c pipe and put tar on it, then wrap it in chicken wire, add more tar and duct tape. He says the causes tar to build up on small grinders and hamper efforts to free them. He says the protesters also do things that require firefighters to pull out the heavy equipment. He says they’ll run a p-v-c pipe through a 55 gallon drum and then fill the drum with cement. O’Keefe says firefighters then have to bring in large chainsaws, power tools and chisels. He says it still comes down to an arm stuck in a pipe, but it takes about 45 minutes more to get them out. O’Keefe says firefighters just want to help police remove the protesters without adding to the problem by hurting someone. He says the tech rescue team is taking the training and says they use the tools real close to someone’s arm or wrist, so they want to be sure they don’t injure them. Firefighters took part in the training Thursday and have another round scheduled for today.
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