Low Country Firefighters Step Up Training

It's a tough, dangerous job, and takes a lot of training. So firefighters in Beaufort are taking it up a notch with an enhanced program to help them save lives and property.

"If you're going to go out and perform at 100 percent efficiency, that requires many, many hours of training," said Capt Paul Bridgeman. "Our guys pretty much have to get it right the first time, every time."

Within the past year, these firefighters have tripled their amount of training, intensifying such exercises like ventilation training, where firefighters cut an opening in a roof.

"What ventilation allows us to do is get the hot smoke, gases out of the building and ventilation allows us to find the fire quicker, because all the smoke and gases will exit the building," explained Daniel Byrne, Beaufort's fire marshal.

That makes the fire more manageable and gives victims valuable time to get out safely.

"The heated gasses and smoke rises out of the building," said Capt. Bridgeman. "Down where the firefighters are down below to fight the fire and do search and rescue, that's being replaced with fresh air to aid them in their task."

If it's not done properly it could cost firefighters their lives. "The firefighter on the roof can get into problems, because they can become trapped and cut off from their way to get off the roof," said Capt. Bridgeman.

Last year, Beaufort firefighters responded to 19 fires, but thanks to their valuable training like today, they only had $120,000 in damage.

Reported by: Jaime Dailey, jdailey@wtoc.com