HFD trains for high-rise fires

HFD trains for high-rise fires
Firefighters gain entry into a smoke filled hallway

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Members of the Hattiesburg Fire Department spent the day brushing up on their skills for battling high-rise fires.

The department created a few scenarios and let them play out at Roberts Hall on The University of Southern Mississippi campus.

"We don't get a lot of high-rise and large building fires, so we need to be prepared when we do," said Barry Collins, Hattiesburg Fire Department Chief Training Instructor.

Training on high-rise structures is not something completely new to the department, but officials are adding it to the list of monthly requirements to keep the guys on their toes.

"This type of training is a high intensity sort of operation that requires specialized skills from the incident commanders and from the firefighters on scene," Collins said.

In this scenario, firefighters responded to a call of a structure fire at the residence hall at Southern Miss, and had to extinguish the fire and search for victims.

Firefighters made their way down smoke filled hallways and searched room by room, as well as putting out the fire in the scenario in the bathroom.

"Training scenarios like this are what benefit our guys the most, it's something that is out of their comfort zone, and the size of the building is always changing," Hattiesburg Fire Chief Paul Presley said.

The dorms on the Southern Miss campus are only a few of the larger than normal structures in the town.

"There are so many buildings in the city of Hattiesburg that are like this, they have old buildings downtown, of course we got USM, and William Carey and Antonelli College," Presley said. "Buildings like that we have to look at and see if there are sprinklers and how we are going to address the issue if they did have a fire."

Presley said he hopes to push the department to one of the most proactive and prestigious departments in the state and to also up the level of training all the guys go through week to week.

"You know, we train all the time in our day-to-day jobs, because guys are always going to smaller house fires or working extrication of patients from car wrecks, but it is always a good thing to step out of the box," Presley said.

Firefighters across the board, young to old can benefit from this type of training, according to Collins.

"A young firefighter, it definitely makes him more aware in the future, if he drives up on the scene and he sees the structure, it's totally involved, he has an assignment and he will know now through his training what is job task is probably going to be when he drives up," Presley said.