What's It Like to Search For Missing Victims In a Burning Building? Rachael Takes On a Firefighter Challenge to Find Out

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On International Firefighters' Day (May 4, 2018), actor Denis Leary hosted the 2nd Annual Denis Leary FDNY Firefighter Challenge, which benefits The Leary Firefighters Foundation.

And after Rach and her team (her hubby John Cusimano, chef Anne Burrell and former New York Jets star Nick Mangold) completed three training rotations -- live fire, subway rescue and high rise -- they tackled the final one: Search and Rescue.

Search for victims in fire situation

"The goal of this drill is to teach them how to find a fire, locate victims, call for the engine company so they could come in and put water on the fire," Lt. Jerry Cox says.

So in full gear -- and while holding heavy equipment -- Rach led her team up two flights of stairs to see what it's like to search for a missing victim.

"Firefighters get up to the door, force entry into the area [and] start doing our search," Lt. Jerry explains. "When we go in, it's usually filled with black smoke. We can't see anything."

"As we go in," he continues, "we follow the walls around as our reference point, trying to map the apartment in our heads, so when things go wrong, we know where we are and how we have to get out."

And that's just what Rach and her team were trained to do.

"When the participants go through, we usually have a victim there," the lieutenant explains. "They find the victim and we teach them how to remove the victim and how to make their way back out the way they came in -- still not being able to see anything, but just by the sense of touch and that map that you made in your head as you went through."

Just as all the others did, the final challenge further proved the intensity of what firefighters endure on a daily basis.

"There's so much to think about," Anne says after emerging from the building. "I can't imagine [getting] multiple calls a day."

"You see how physically taxing it is, but also how mentally taxing," Nick adds. "You can get that heart rate going when you're in a dark room with smoke."

And when the day was done, Rach simply couldn't thank the brave men and women who do this every day enough.

"Thank you to every firefighter out there and all of the families," Rach says. "Thanks is certainly not enough."

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