A Wilson Times Co. publication · Serving Southern Nash County Since 1947

Rookie firefighters in the hot seat: Volunteers suit up for regional training

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BAILEY — Rookie volunteer firefighters from Nash and Wilson counties got a chance to learn about fire behavior up close and personal during ongoing training exercises last week.

The three-week course for new firefighters in their first couple of years is the first of its kind in Bailey in more than a decade, said Bailey Fire Chief Chad Bissette.

The Rock Ridge Volunteer Fire Department loaned its mobile burn unit to Bailey so new firefighters from the Bailey, Battleboro, Rock Ridge, Sharpsburg and West Mount departments could experience firsthand how blazes spread and smoke moves inside a fire-engulfed structure.

The unit, basically a metal storage container mounted on a trailer, allows firefighters to suit up in full gear and watch burning wood in an enclosed area. For about 15 minutes, the novice firefighters can see flames and feel heat as the controlled fire consumes the plywood and pallet interior infrastructure of the unit all around them from inception until the fire flashes over, Bissette said.

Other aspects of the course include orientation, safety measures, ladders, water supply and nozzles and hoses. After completion of the training and passing a test, firefighters will have the needed essentials to safely fight fires as a volunteer.

Bissette, in his first year as chief and 17th year with the department, said it’s important for firefighters in southern Nash County and nearby towns in Wilson County to train together because Rocky Mount and Wilson are difficult for them to get to for training, and they will be working together in emergencies.

The current course has 14 trainees. Bissette said he hopes to run similar training sessions every year or so.