HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Members of Mississippi Task Force 3 added another certification to their list after completing a structural collapse class in the Hub City.
In total, 24 members of the task force spent the past week participating in an 80-hour course involving structural collapse scenarios which was a joint participation with the Mississippi Department of Homeland Security.
"This is an 80-hour course that gets them totally certified in structural collapse," said Task Force 3 leader Chad Bryant. "You can hear saws, all the hammering going on today, they're learning how to go through concrete, regardless of the obstacle…safely…and try to mitigate the situation to save lives."
Classes like this one help firefighters get their different levels of FEMA certifications, allowing them to respond to a variety of disasters.
"It's a lot that goes into this course, as far as the hours and commitment to it, and these guys here, a lot of them, it's one of the last classes they get before there FEMA type, to where that regardless of the type of situation these guys can respond to it," Bryant said. "These are the guys that will be the specialist that actually come in, you know when all hope is (lost), you know it looks like a total pancake collapse, these guys know how to get through it."
"To have this event, sponsored by homeland security hosted here in Hattiesburg, just shows you how blessed we are to have a facility like this to train our first responders," said Hattiesburg Mayor Toby Barker.
"In structural collapse, in the urban search and rescues element it's one of those things, where any natural disaster, you look at anywhere in the state from earthquakes to hurricanes, either way you're going to have structures that are damaged," Bryant said.
In total, there are four task force groups across the state, three being operational assets, and one being logistics.
"Hattiesburg is one of five cities, maybe six that have their own fire academy, to have that facility here, that we can host events not only to train five of our men, on what to do in a structural collapse, but train first responders from across the state, says something about the quality we have here in Hattiesburg," said Barker.