Editorial: Continuing education

Weekend firefighter training great way to hone skills of those who serve
Mar. 05, 2013 @ 11:45 PM

It was cold, it was snowy and it was the weekend. There are a number of places the men and women of area fire departments night rather have been than an open field behind Waters State Community College in Sevierville. Yet there they were, experiencing training and learning and honing skills, all to better serve the people in their departments’ districts.

Over 700 firefighters from across the state met in Sevierville over the just-completed weekend for classes and training sessions, learning in the classroom, then putting their knowledge and skills to the test in the field. The 15th annual Smoky Mountain Weekend, organized and sponsored by the Sevier County Fire Chiefs’ Association, provides low-cost training sessions for a number of departments. Any department can send firefighters, but it’s geared to assist volunteer departments.

Jeff Nichols, director of Smoky Mountain Weekend, put it succinctly and best: “If you don’t train, you’re not safe. That goes hand-in-hand.”

The 35 classes, which are approved by the Tennessee Commission on Fire Fighting and cost between $55 and $125 to attend, ranged from structural firefighting classes to inspection classes, and participating in them could earn firefighters credit hours or certification. One of the new classes this year focused on trench rescue, a three-day classroom and training session teaching techniques on rescuing in a construction-type accident. Different classes and training sessions were held in various locations around the county, and Walters State served as a headquarters.

A couple dozen fire apparatuses were parked in the Walters State parking lot behind the school, where two large white tents, one for vendors and one for dining, were set up. There was friendly competition, designed to encourage the best of the trainees.

If you are served by a volunteer fire department, then this sort of activity is what you want. If your department sent members to train, then you are better for it. Thanks to all who staged this event and to those who braved the elements to experience it.