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Firemen put training to the test Saturday

Sixty-five hours of classroom training was put to a fiery test this past Saturday as 18 newly trained volunteer firemen completed their Basic Volunteer Firefighter Course as required by the state of Georgia. Seventeen new Grady County firefighters and one firefighter from a neighboring county are now certified firefighters after completing a “live burn” and passing a 100 question test.  Prior to this, the new firefighters attended 65 hours of classroom training three days a week since May.
“The students were tested on the material they learned during the classroom part of the course and then they brought that knowledge to the field for some hands on experience,” said Grady County Volunteer Fire Chief Wayne Hadden. The course was taught by fireman Richard Phillips, chief of the Spence Volunteer Fire Department and Grady County’s only full-time paid firefighter who mans the rescue truck during the week. Phillips is certified by the Georgia Fire Academy in classroom instruction and live fire training. The test, 100 questions in all, is given by a state fire academy member and no two tests are alike. This most recent class had a 99% pass rate on the test.
“The students did a great job committing to so many weeks of training and then coming out here and battling a live burn, all the book work and class training in the world can’t prepare a new firefighter for what they experienced today. When they suit up in that turnout gear and crawl inside a burning house for the first time, they feel the heat and see the flames, and it is quite a challenging test,” said Hadden.
Safety is first and foremost, not only in training burns, but real fire situations. “The safety of the firefighter is first and foremost. We knew the heat from the weather was going to be an added factor today so we kept a close a eye on everyone, and only had one person who experienced some minor problems from the heat,” Hadden added.  “As in a real situation, it’s important to secure the area, go in safely and extinguish the fire, and that’s what we worked on today,” said Hadden. 
The abandoned house was located on Andrews Circle off highway 93 south and donated by the property owners for the training exercise.  “This training in invaluable. When you enter the burning building and actually fight a real fire and see first hand what happens, going inside a burning structure with flames boiling over your head across the ceiling, it’s an experience that these young men will never forget,” said Hadden.
In all, 10 instructors were on hand to monitor the new firefighters and 15 other volunteer firemen came out and served as support staff in the all day training event. “Before we let anyone near a live burn, we are satisfied that they are trained and prepared for the event, and we closely monitor every student from beginning to end,” said Hadden.
The chief also had words of praise for the instructor of the class, Richard Phillips.  “Richard did a great a job training these new volunteers and worked hard to be sure everyone was successfully trained, and the results are proof of a job well done,” said Hadden.
Volunteer fire fighters will have another live burn training opportunity in just a few weeks at a house located in the city of Cairo. The 18 graduates of the recent certification class will receive their certificates and be recognized at a supper in just a few weeks.

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