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Mississippi Fire Academy certifies 14 Warren County firefighters



A vapor fire that was put out safely by fire fighters at the Mississippi Fire Academy. [all photos by David Day]

Three out of every four firefighters in the U.S. are volunteers.

That’s one bit of information coming out of today’s training at the Mississippi State Fire Academy in Pearl.

But “volunteer” doesn’t mean “untrained.” Far from it.

Vicksburg and Warren County volunteer firefighters go through rigorous training. Warren County firefighters endured 120 hours of training over several months to earn the right to attend the Mississippi Fire Academy. Subjects covered include fire behavior, personal protective equipment, ropes and knots, and much more. Those basics are about 80 hours, said County Fire Coordinator Gerald Briggs, but Warren County added another 40 hours to cover cancer awareness and traffic incident management.

Even meeting the prerequisites to begin training is a rigorous process. Among them are a host of related certifications including CPR and emergency first aid required of emergency medical technicians. Then there are the physical and mental requirements including being able to climb six or seven flights of stairs carrying 50 pounds or more of protective gear and making good decisions under the extreme stress of many claustrophobic and dangerous firefighting scenarios.

Today the Warren County group had to prove they had the right stuff to be certified as firefighters in the State of Mississippi, which has one of the most demanding sets of requirements for firefighters in the country. The academy holds everyone, including themselves, to a high standard.

“The Mississippi State Fire Academy is one of, if not the best firefighter training academy in the world,” says Mississippi Commissioner of Insurance and State Fire Marshal Mike Chaney on the MSFA website.

“Good training, knowledge and skill can help a firefighter survive the physical dangers of the job. The training(s) the State Fire Academy offers continue to be the most up-to-date and advanced as they can be,” Chaney adds.

Fire Coordinator Briggs, E-911 Director Shane Garrard along with Chuck Tate, former E-911 director and former Culkin fire chief, and the departmental chiefs provided most of the training for the firefighters. Every Monday and Thursday night since November, the trainees were in class or receiving hands-on training on how to approach the many situations a firefighter faces.

The primary focus of all the training is safety.

Today at the Fire Academy the new firefighters had to pass several tests—everything from getting into their turnouts in two minutes or less—no small feat—to putting out a massive vapor fire safely.

Firefighters were given two minutes to put on some 50 to 70 pounds of gear.

E911 Director Shane Garrard decked out in firefighting gear.

The fourteen that graduated are, from the left, standing: Jeff Riggs, Culkin; Zachary Hearn, Northeast; Robert Whitten, Fisher Ferry; Joe Wooten, Bovina; Makenna Blair, Fisher Ferry; Wendell Blair, Fisher Ferry; Steven Cunningham, Fisher Ferry; Brian Sellers, Letourneau; Chris Jones, Culkin; Nick Davies, Letourneau; and Antonio Austin, Bovina. Sitting, from left: Cedrick Martin, Culkin; Neil Pryor, Fisher Ferry; and John Wright, Fisher Ferry.

Congratulations to one and all.

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