When the door opens and thick black smoke bellows out, no one knows what lies hidden.
Training sessions, like a recent drill at the Robeson Community College Emergency Services Training Center, located just off N.C. 72, help prepare and protect firefighters and their crew from dangers waiting inside a burning building.
“Training is one of the core components in the fire service,” said Paul Ivey, the interim fire chief for the Lumberton Fire Department. “Since we are called to a wide variety of emergency calls, we have to train for a wide variety of emergency situations. Since lives and property are at stake and seconds count, we must train to the point that actions become second nature.”
At a recent training exercise, firefighters entered a burning building holding the hose steady as they fought the fire. With sparks shooting over their helmets, there is no room for error.
“We require all of our firefighters to get a minimum of 240 hours of training each year,” Ivey said. “This is a combination of self study, classroom lecture, and hands on training. We try to incorporate all of these into drills that we conduct throughout the year.”
Ivey said that training “builds confidence and continuity between the firefighters and their team. … The goal is for each member and team to function rapidly, efficiently, and safely at each emergency.”
At the end of the training session, as the smoke faded away and firefighters emerge from the building, they removed their masks for a breath of fresh air. Looking back at the smouldering structure, they flashed smiles.