Over 30 firefighters attend day one of West Point Fire extrication training

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, October 25, 2023

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West Point Fire Department held its annual extrication training on Tuesday and Wednesday with 70 firefighters attending in two days. 

On Tuesday, 32 students and 15 instructors participated in the class. 

During the morning, the group learned how to handle types of metals, lithium battery fires and electric vehicles. The students also used new battery-powered tools. 

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“We’re trying to get up to speed on that with the influx of EV vehicles we’re seeing and everything,” said WPFD Chief Derick Staley. “We try to incorporate that in too. More than cutting cars, we’re learning a little bit more in-depth about the EV fires and so forth.”

The annual extrication training is a partnership between WPFD, Kia and Municipal Emergency Supply (MES). MES sends the instructors out for the extrication training.

Staley said it’s important to work on new vehicles because most firefighters practice on old cars that are made from different materials and require different techniques for efficient and safe extrication.

“We see a lot of the fire services evolving within a lot of the younger generation coming into the fire service,” Staley said. “And to be able to put those tools in their hands to actually work on present-day vehicles, it’s huge.”

For the past two decades, Kia has donated new vehicles to the training. This year Kia donated 10 of its newer model vehicles to be used during the training. 

The students also use Hurst Jaws of Life extrication equipment to practice techniques on the new metal. 

After lunch, the students used the new tools to practice dissembling vehicles. Staley said the training allows new firefighters to practice extricating on new vehicles made from new metal materials. 

Firefighters from neighboring fire departments are invited to attend. MES also sends out invitations to its out-of-state partners. 

“It’s huge to be able to bring the training here instead of having to send people all over,” Staley said. “Especially with a department our size, it’s hard to send five guys off. That’s a third of the department right here.”

Firefighters from 10 departments traveled from four metro areas around Georgia. Firefighters and instructors also came from Florida, South Carolina and St. Louis, Missouri.