Photo by : Sue Ann Kuhn-Smith Fire fighter Joshua Duck uses a thermal imaging camera to detect heat inside different spots in the wall of the structure.
CONYERS -- Rockdale County firefighters found a great opportunity to sharpen their skills while also helping Rockdale Career Academy students with the donation of a former administrative office building at the Georgia International Horse Park for training purposes.
Rockdale County Fire and Rescue is holding training sessions at the Horse Park using live-fire scenarios. The training is scheduled for the next few weeks and will end with demolition of the old GIHP office building.
The city of Conyers donated the large house for fire training after staff moved into a new building on the property. The city needed to remove the structure and contacted Fire and Rescue. The house sits on the back side of the Horse Park and was originally used as an office for the 1996 Olympic Games' equestrian events.
"We thought of Rockdale because we really hoped the department could put the house to good use and we'd have a positive outcome for both of us, while also removing a building no longer suitable at the park," GIHP Director Jennifer Bexley said.
The training included working in true conditions and live-fire scenarios such as search and rescue, hose evolutions, fire attacks, firefighter safety and investigations to keep sharp the skills all firefighters must maintain.
Rockdale Fire Chief Franklin Wilson said his department appreciated the opportunity. This type of training at other facilities can cost more than $10,000 and does not include the significant man hours for preparation, travel expenses and salaries, Wilson said.
"This is a great opportunity for Fire and Rescue due to the limited training facilities and properties the department has access to," Wilson said. "Using a structure such as this will allow the department to train on different types of firefighting techniques and at different levels."
Also, Fire and Rescue partnered with Rockdale Career Academy's Public Safety and Workplace Spanish programs during the training. Students visited the site to see live firefighting scenarios, ask questions of firefighting staff and have practical application opportunities to see how classroom learning is applied in live-field exercises.
During the field trip, Spanish students were also able to test their knowledge and create visual parallels to the vocabulary they are learning in class.
RCA Public Safety Instructor Matt Mahathey said providing a real life experience for his students was the biggest reason for contacting Fire and Rescue. "You can explain what it is like to be on a fire scene, but until you actually are there you don't have the sense of fulfillment and exposure," he said.
"Our students are expressing interest daily regarding their participation in events coordinated with the fire department, and as a career tech instructor I see no better way to prepare them for the workforce than putting them in the environment," Mahathey said. "My hope is to expand our relationship with Rockdale County Fire in an effort to provide more opportunities to our students."