The Commerce Journal

April 4, 2014

Fighting more than just fires

By Joseph Hamrick
The Commerce Journal

COMMERCE —

 

 

For the past few weeks I’ve been attending a Citizen’s Fire Academy hosted by the Greenville Fire Department. 

If you think all a firefighter does is fight fires, then you would be in for a rude awakening. 

During the first week, Greenville Fire Chief Doug Caison showed how throughout the years, the fire department has grown from only fighting fires, all the way to flood and swift-water rescue teams and extrication. 

Caison said it came about because in the early days when people would call 911, if the operator did not know which department it would fall under, they would send it to the fire department, which would figure out some way to help the person. 

That’s why you see the common firefighter rescuing cats from trees. 

No one knew who to call, so they decided the fire department was the default go-to team to solve problems. 

There is so much training that goes into becoming a firefighter that from looking at the amount of hours and type of training, it almost seems as if they are a part of some special forces unit. 

Some of the Greenville firefighters are part of task force teams that are sent not only all around the country for disastors, but also around the world to help with cleanup efforts and other fire or emergency related issues. 

To be one of the elite, more than 1,000 hours of training must be taken from ropes classes, diving school for underwater rescues and countless other high-stress, high-intensity hands-on classes.

From going on one ride-along with the Commerce Fire Department I already gained an intense respect for firefighters and what they do. 

And from attending these classes, that respect has only grown.