Brownwood firefighters learned about themselves, their equipment and their department as they participated in the 2007 International Fire and EMS Safety Stand Down.

Firefighters also got a harsh reminder of how deadly their jobs can be: nine of their colleagues perished at a furniture warehouse fire in Charleston, S.C., on June 18, as the stand down was beginning.

Brownwood Fire Capt. Dennis Carroll said the firemen were killed while trying to rescue employees believed to be in the building. “There’s not a guy here who wouldn’t do that,” Carroll said.

The Charleston tragedy brought home the realization that “you might not go home to your family,” he said. “We’re not immune to that. Nobody is.

“We basically lost a brother. It doesn’t matter whether we’ve ever met them. We’re one family.”

He said Brownwood firefighters discussed the fire and watched the funerals for the nine firemen on television.

Also during the stand down, firefighters tested their physical fitness with endurance and strength exercises and inspected equipment. “I learned, myself, I could improve on some things,” Carroll said.

“As far as I know all of our bunker gear (passed inspection),” Carroll said. That wasn’t the case during last year’s stand down, when several sets of bunker gear were taken out of service after being inspected.

The stand down, themed “Ready to Respond,” focused on preparing firefighters for their daily duties by reviewing their training and the proper use of equipment to ensure safe response and return from emergency calls, Brownwood Interim City Manager James Campbell said earlier.

In 2006, 105 firefighters died in the line of duty in the United States. Before the Charleston disaster, the count for 2007 was at 28.