Firemen train at RCCC

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 9, 2004

AHOSKIE – While the majority of area citizens sat all nice and warm inside their homes this past weekend, a hundred-or-so men and women braved winter’s wicked winds to better serve those within their communities.

Here on the campus of Roanoke-Chowan Community College (RCCC), the Hertford County Firefighters Association (HCFA) hosted their first Roanoke-Chowan Area Fire School. The two-day event attracted firefighters from across the state, some coming from as far away as Asheville.

Their mission was to receive the most up-to-date training. Fighting fire isn’t just all about aiming water at a blaze. It has evolved through the use of technology and those new-age measures, sprinkled in with a few of the trusted and true methods from days gone by, are designed to better train firefighters in a variety of ways.

The idea of hosting a local fire school was shared by RCCC and HCFA. Through a combined effort – one spearheaded by Fred Curley, EMS and Fire Coordinator at RCCC, and Chris Smith, a Union volunteer fireman and a member of the HCFA – over 1,300 fire departments across the state were mailed an event flyer last fall. Approximately 130-150 responses, spanning the state from Asheville to the coast, were returned.

&uot;I thought the turnout was great, this being the first time that Hertford County has hosted this type of fire training,&uot; noted Smith. &uot;I’ve attended fire schools in other areas of the state and the attendance at ours this weekend is comparable with the others.&uot;

A quick check of the registration forms revealed firemen from the counties of Hertford, Bertie, Gates, Northampton, Martin, Dare, Halifax and Haywood counties were in attendance.

&uot;There are two keys in drawing this many responses – offering a wide variety of training and having the most respected training officers in the state to come in and teach those classes,&uot; stressed Curley. &uot;We did exactly that.&uot;

Those in attendance could choose between eight offerings:

Personal Protective Equipment – covering turnout gear, gloves, helmets, oxygen bottles and the hazardous environments firefighters face that dictate the use of that equipment. This course also covered ground on the leading causes of injuries, and even death, suffered by firefighters in the line of duty. Jeff Vaughan was the instructor.

Fire Behavior and Portable Extinguishers – were courses, taught by Barry Overman, that allow students to complete the objective related to fire behavior and portable extinguishers for Firefighter I and II certification.

Incident Command System – designed for the person who will assume the command officer’s role at the emergency scene. Subjects included implementation, components, benefits and practical application through a multitude of scenarios. Robert Smith served as the instructor.

Incident Safety Officer – a course that examined the role of a safety officer at an emergency. Responses to all hazardous types of situations were emphasized. The instructor was Thomas Parker.

Firefighter Safety and Survival – this class, taught by Wilbert Dunn, covered all facets of safety and avoidance for the firefighter. Those completing the course were issued National Fire Academy certificates.

Rescue Rigging – a course detailing the proper use of ropes and other related rescue rigging equipment. Dale Smith served as the instructor.

Fire Apparatus, Emergency Driving – dealt with the safe operation of emergency vehicles, driving skills, legal implications of emergency vehicle driving and departmental standing operating procedures. The instructor was William Babb.

&uot;One needs to realize that the men and women who enrolled in these courses did so on their own time,&uot; noted Curley. &uot;They took time away from their families, on a weekend, in order to better train themselves for emergency situations. Their only reward is knowing they have the tools and the knowledge to better serve their communities.&uot;

Another key element of learning came not from a textbook, but by sharing information between departments.

&uot;Just like any line of work, a person who performs those duties over an extended period of time will know what works and what doesn’t,&uot; concluded Curley. &uot;The classes we had here at RCCC were packed full of useful information, but we also learned from one another by passing on our experiences at the scene of a fire.&uot;

Both Curley and Smith stated they would like to host another Fire School in the future.

&uot;This being our first time at hosting an event of this magnitude was definitely a learning process,&uot; stated Smith. &uot;We learned a few things that will make our next event even better than the first.&uot;