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Firefighters learn importance of hazmat training during weekend class

More than a dozen firefighters from McDuffie and Columbia counties participated in a hazmat training class at the McDuffie County Fire/Rescue Headquarters near Thomson last weekend.

Firefighters were taught three different skills and had to pass written examinations before being declared certified to perform various defensive operations regarding hazmat emergencies.

The 14 firefighters involved in the training exercise, using simulated situations, taught them specialized techniques in the following: absorption and retention, diversion and dyking and vapor dispersing. The four-day class consisted of 32 training hours.

"The main benefit that they learn from this kind of a class is how they can protect themselves during a hazmat emergency," McDuffie County Fire/Rescue Services Chief Bruce Tanner said last Sunday. "The number two reason is to teach them how to protect the public and the third thing is that this class must be taken and passed because it is federally mandated."

McDuffie County Fire/Rescue Services Assistant Chief Stephen Sewell said such a training class "offers a whole new level of knowledge and preparedness for firefighters. This is very beneficial to all of us as firefighters so that we can better protect the public."

The training received by local firefighters this year over last year is expected to double, Asst. Chief Sewell pointed out.

He praised the work of Lt. John Payne of the Martinez-Columbia Fire/Rescue Services who serves as the training officer for the McDuffie County Fire/Rescue Services.

"Lt. Payne does a great job for us in the training area," Asst. Chief Sewell said.

This year's hazmat training at the local county fire headquarters was coordinated by Lt. John Caran of the Richmond County Fire Department. Chief Tanner served as one of the three training station instructors. The other two included Capt. Brent Willis of the Martinez-Columbia Fire/Rescue Services and Firefighter Bryant Wolf of the Richmond County Fire Department.

Ray Sutton, of Sutton's Wrecker Service in Dearing, provided the hazmat equipment used by firefighters during the training exercise.

"We really appreciate Mr. Sutton helping us out with the hazmat equipment he furnished," Asst. Chief Sewell said.

Web posted on Thursday, June 18, 2009

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