School gives firefighters edge to help serve public

Published 11:46 pm Saturday, September 18, 2010

SOUTH POINT — It’s tasteless, odorless and looks like water. But at a fire scene, propane is not a firefighter’s friend.

Learning how to control a fire that is being fueled with propane was one of the many lessons area firefighters studied during the fifth annual Lawrence County Fire School.

“Training is of the utmost importance,” said Steve Rutherford, of the Rome Volunteer Fire Department. Rutherford was also an instructor for the two-day school held at the South Point High School Saturday and Sunday.

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“Without training you don’t learn new ideas, new skills,” he said. “And it is cost effective to train together and network together.”

Fire school is not a new concept for Lawrence County, but it had not been in existence for some time when the county fire chiefs got together and decided to revive it.

While all fire stations offer in house training, the school, sponsored by the Lawrence County Fire Association, used both local and outside instructors for the series of classes.

“They bring a different outlook,” Debbie Stevens of the South Point Volunteer Fire Department said.

Classes ranged from propane emergencies to Hazmat awareness to communications to use of foam.

Here firefighters could learn about new techniques and new equipment such as newer, lighter weight nozzles for fire hoses. The classes were taught partly as lecture and as demonstrations.

The classes also go toward the 18 hours of continuing education all firefighters, whether volunteer or paid, must have every two years to retain their certification.

“We are learning and we are being better prepared for our local community,” Rutherford said.