WPFD hosts annual training

Published 8:30 am Thursday, October 20, 2022

West Point Fire Chief Derick Staley hosted the second day of the annual Vehicle Extrication and Stabilization training in partnership with KIA Georgia, Hurst Jaws of Life and Municipal Emergency Services (MES) on Wednesday. 

Twenty-two firefighters from across East Alabama and metro Atlanta attended on Wednesday. Hurst instructors traveled from as far as St Louis and Virginia to lead the training. Every year, Hurst and the Hurst supplier, MES, provide specialized equipment for the hands-on portion.

“Yesterday, today, and in the years past, we have new firefighters coming in that have never operated tools, and we have senior firefighters who have been doing it for years and are excellent instructors,” Staley said. “But there’s always a new technique to learn.”

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The classroom portion focused on the different types of metals used in cars and the hazards of electric and hybrid vehicles. Hurst and MES instructors also discussed techniques for using Hurst equipment and the safest and most efficient methods. 

“It’s important because not every day we get to cut on a new vehicle,” Staley said. “It provides patient and citizen safety for us to know how to safely get them out of the vehicle.”

In the afternoon, the firefighters got hands-on practice using Hurst equipment and new techniques for vehicle stabilization, roof, glass, and door removal and tunneling through vehicles. 

“It also provides responder safety, so we know how to react to different type of vehicles, so we don’t get hurt while we’re trying to help someone else,” Staley said. 

For approximately 12 years, KIA has donated 10 or more vehicles for the training. This year, the company donated 13 new vehicles to the training, ranging from 2015 to 2022 models. 

“It’s a great partnership with KIA and let’s us be able to use our tools on the new technologies and make sure that they will hold up to it,” Staley said. “And it also gives all the guys time that they can see the newest and the greatest tools.”

Staley said it’s important for firefighters to be able to practice these techniques on new vehicles, which are often made with different materials than in the past. 

“One thing we’re having to deal with now is the influx of electric vehicles and the hybrid vehicles and how to be aware that it is a hybrid vehicle, and what to look for and what not to cut and what not pry on to ensure that responder safety,” Staley said.

However, the tools aren’t just used for vehicle extrication. According to Staley, firefighters can use the equipment for actions like gaining access to vehicle motors on fire and forcing entry into houses. 

“The more tool time you have on your hands, the better it is,” Staley said.

Firefighters from Alexander City, Troup County, Northwest Harris Volunteer, West Point, Gainesville, Heard County, Johns Creek, Meriwether County and LaGrange participated in the training. 

West Point Fire Department and its partners send out invitations to all the surrounding counties and agencies to participate.

“We send out invites anybody that wants to participate, to come over and play with us on cutting cars,” Staley said.