Training because lives depend on it
Story and photos by John Coffelt, Staff Writer.
Firefighters and rescue personnel from across the region gathered in Hillsboro Saturday, not for an emergency, but to share knowledge and offer less experienced volunteer firefighters some crucial training.
The event, hosted for a second year by the Hillsboro Volunteer Fire Department, called the Multi–County Live Burn Weekend was held at the Hillsboro Park and welcomed 102 firefighters.
“This is a joint training session, between Coffee, Franklin, Warren counties,” said Hillsboro Volunteer Firefighter Aaron Brown.
Trainees divided into groups of 10-12 and rotated through various stations.
According to Brown, stations included a structural fire simulator brought in from Putnam County Fire Department [manned by Chief Joe Johnson from Smyrna/Rutherford County Airport Authority and George DeSheilds of the Hillsboro VFD], vertical ventilation tactics [taught on the roof of the burn trailer], vehicle extrication [taught by Manchester Fire personnel], hazardous materials fundamentals taught by Coffee County EMA Director Allen Lendley, firefighter survival, and a ropes and knots station teaching the fundamentals of rope rescue.
In an effort to enhance working relationships with the surrounding departments, firefighters were divided into groups that consisted of multiple departments in order to share their skills and stories with the other members on their team.
At the center of the event was the live burn simulator. Inside, firefighters were given an up close look at the conditions inside a burning structure and were able to practice attacking the fire.
Behind Station 1, Manchester FD Capt. J.E. “Casey” Wright instructed volunteers on vehicle extractions using junk vehicles.
“It’s a great time to work together and learn a few things,” Brown said.
For New Union Volunteer firefighter Kevin Kimberlin the event was also an opportunity to practice working with units outside the county.
“It’s always great to learn how other departments work,” Kimberlin said. “You never know when you are going to get called [to a multi-county fire]. We’ve been called to Cannon County and Franklin County to help them out.”
Kimberlin said Saturday, he learned a few things he didn’t learn in firefighting school.
Participating departments from Cannon County were Mooretown Volunteer Fire Department; Coffee County included AEDC Fire and Emergency Services, Hickerson Station Volunteer Fire Department, Hillsboro Volunteer Fire Department, Manchester Fire and Rescue, New Union Volunteer Fire Department, North Coffee Volunteer Fire Department, Summitville Volunteer Fire Department, and Tullahoma Fire Department; Franklin County included Alto/Oak Grove Volunteer Fire Department, Belvidere Volunteer Fire Department, Capitol Hill Volunteer Fire Department, Cowan Fire Department, Estill Springs Volunteer Fire Department, and Fourth District Volunteer Fire Department; Grundy County included Pelham Valley Volunteer Fire Department and Monteagle Volunteer Fire and Rescue; and Warren County included Morrison Fire Department.