March 13, 2024

Rankin County brings back live fire training facility for volunteer firefighters

Therese Apel

Volunteers weld the inside of Rankin County's live-fire training building in a recent cleanup session.
Rankin County’s live-fire training building prior to a cleanup session on Saturday, March 9.

For a firefighter, being in a structure fire for the first time is an unforgettable experience.

In spite of all the training and all the book work, suddenly, it all comes to life in real time, and there’s nothing quite like it. Rankin County is currently working to revamp a training tool that would prepare firefighters for that moment, as well as allow them to practice and learn in a real-life environment.

On Saturday, a group of volunteer firefighters led by Rankin County Fire Coordinator Brett Ishee gathered on Marquette Road to begin the cleanup of the old burn building, sweeping, weed-eating, welding, and dragging trash away from the building. The building, which hasn’t been used in eight years, is a live-fire training facility that the Rankin County fire service recently got permission from the Board of Supervisors to reopen.

The burn building gives firefighters the opportunity to practice in several kinds of environments, including an attic.

“We are very excited about the use of the county burn building. This will be a great opportunity, under safer conditions, for our volunteer and career firefighters to practice and hone their skills,” said Rankin Emergency Operations Center Director Brian Grantham. “We are thankful to the Board of Supervisors for allowing us to continue serving the citizens of Rankin County by providing this invaluable training opportunity.”

Board of Supervisors President Steve Gaines said the decision to bring back the training facility was almost automatic, given the positives that it brings to life and property protection in Rankin County.

“It is the goal of the Board of Supervisors to give our volunteer firefighters realistic training opportunities to better equip them to face the challenges of fire suppression. A good way to prepare our firefighters is through active fire suppression training using live fire scenarios so that our men and women encounter realistic situations in a safe and controlled environment,” Gaines said. “The Board of Supervisors is pleased to make this training tool available to our volunteers and is encouraged that our volunteers are being equipped to handle whatever dangers that they may face with as much training as possible.”

A volunteer firefighter helps in cleaning trash away from Rankin County’s burn building.

Rankin County is already known for strong volunteer departments and an emphasis on training.

“Rankin County is most fortunate to have the very best volunteer firefighting force in the State of Mississippi. The people of rural Rankin County are blessed to have volunteer fire departments staffed by true volunteer public servants who love and want to protect their communities,” Gaines said. “These men and women are the backbone of our communities. They run into dangerous situations when others run away. Without our firefighters our community would not have the quality of life that we are afforded.”

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