Thursday, May 27, 2010
Alderman experiences day in life of fireman
By SUE WATSON
Holly Springs alderman Calvin James is the first elected official in the city to participate in Public Officials Day at the state fire academy.
“It is a chance for them to experience a day in the life of a fireman at the fire academy,” said chief Kenny Holbrook. “It is a full-blown experience like they give firefighters.”
The state began offering Public Officials Day at the fire academy about three years ago, he said.
“The fire academy people thought it would be a good experience. The idea came from another state’s academy,” Holbrook said. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience. They experience the same thing the firemen do.”
James partnered with Holly Springs fireman Ben Ivester, who helped the alderman suit up, operate a fire house, and go into a smoke house to locate a “victim” and to extinguish a “kitchen” fire.
“They let them pull their hose and put the fire out,” Holbrook said. “It’s a really good learning experience for people in elected positions.”
James learned in the one-day training about the job of firefighters and how important they are for the city and how important it is for officials to support the job they do.
After an in-class orientation, James suited up and took a driving course through an obstacle course steering a 20-ton vehicle, he said. Then he learned to use the fire hose, to bleed it of air and then to put it through the full range of motion.
The tour of the two-story fire and smoke house was the most daunting. With a partner and wearing full gear, James entered the building on his knees with a fire house which he used to extinguish a kitchen fire. While there they used a thermal imaging camera to locate a “victim” in the smoke.
James said he came away from the experience with information and “high respect and admiration for” what firefighters do. He thinks more elected officials should participate in the program if they are physically able to do so.
“It’s just a wonderful course,” he said.
He said he hopes the Mississippi Municipal League will offer a similar one-day course at the police academy.
“This builds a working relationship, because you know what they go through,” he said. “I want to thank chief Holbrook and his staff for their support.”
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