Volunteers Get Fired Up About Training
Randolph County volunteer firefighters had the opportunity to train in near realistic conditions last week by using the Mobile Fire Suppression Trainer (MFST) from the Alabama Fire College. Over 100 volunteers from Randolph, Clay and Chambers County participated in the training over the course of four days to hone their skills in fighting structure fires and performing search and rescue.
The Randolph County Association of Volunteer Fire Departments Training Officer, Joe Craft, coordinated the event to include training new recruits and also refresh the skills of some of our most seasoned veterans.
“With larger groups broken up into individual engine companies, we could rotate them around to train in different aspects of fire suppression to include incident command, 360-degree size-up, internal attack, ventilation, search and rescue, and communications,” said Craft. “We had great support from our lead instructor, Lt. Todd Kirkland, Alabama Fire College who has been with us the whole way and has been instrumental in helping train Randolph County’s newest cadre of fire instructors.”
This MFST training is invaluable to teach and practice the tactics, techniques and procedures involved in responding to a structure fire. Even though only about 33 percent of the 2,500 calls VFDs responded to in 2022 were fire-related, by exercising in a controlled environment, it gives the firefighters the ability to practice specific aspects of firefighting and slow things down so the student can grasp the concept and build confidence in his/her abilities through instruction and repetition.
All Randolph County volunteer fire departments train on their own time and maintain the standards required to provide fire suppression capabilities that protect our community. They are looking to expand their training capabilities through the construction of a new Fire Training Center here in Randolph County. Not only will it include classroom facilities, but also a Class-A live burn facility to help train our firefighters for the future.
VFDs are an integral part of the community and are committed to serve, however, many VFDs nationwide are looking at who will “fill their shoes” when their current members “age out.” Randolph County VFDs are even “older” than the national average, and need younger people to fill in the gap as the older generation looks toward retirement.
With that in mind, starting on April 1, Randolph County is hosting a Certified Volunteer Fire Fighter 160 course, that offers firefighting basics. After 160 hours of instruction, graduates will be certificated by the Alabama Fire College as a Firefighter I and in Hazardous Materials Awareness and Operations. Contact your local VFD for more information.