Hattiesburg firefighters learn new training exercise

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Members of the Hattiesburg Fire Department fought water instead of fire today.

Firefighters know how to survive, but surviving in water with 200 pounds of gear is something new.

"Pretty much going over firefighter survival in case one of the firefighters happens to fall in a pool, a lot of people don't realize there is a lot of structures  around here that have pools," said David Fielder, an engineer.

Members of the Hattiesburg Fire Department recently battled a fire at the Southern Miss natatorium and realized the dangers, and since have implicated the new training method.

"This really gives the guys a chance to get in and understand that their gear floats that they are gonna be ok, just remember to stay calm and don't panic," said Fielder.

Through the course of three days, each shift will make their way through the training exercise held at the Hattiesburg Recreation Center.

"It's something that there isn't a lot of training done throughout the state with this, we don't think a lot of departments train on this or even think about it because it's something that is just an afterthought," said Fielder.

Normally the gear firemen wear to battle a house fire weighs around 50 pounds, add water to that suit, and they are nearing the 200 pound mark.
The firemen are taught to use the tools they have, such as a helmet or boot or the air in their suit to help them float.

"A lot of guys on here that don't, they are not great swimmers or either they don't know how to swim well at all and it enables them to get a feel for it," said Fielder.

The training helps the firefighters with the shock of falling into water and making them comfortable in the event the situation does occur.

"At the end of the day our main objective is to go home, and so this is one of those skills that will hopefully help you go home," said Fielder.

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