Firefighter and water shuttling training is held at Henleyfield fire department

Published 3:03 am Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Henleyfield Volunteer Fire Dept. on Saturday held an annual personnel and “water shuttle” training session that involved five Pearl River County volunteer fire depts.

The training session not only helped train and upgrade fire fighting personnel of all five departments but also operated “water shuttle” measuring operations that will help determine the fire insurance ratings held by the departments.

In addition, officials from Lawrence County including two supervisors and some fire officials, attended the session. They told Pearl River County officials that they wanted to find out how to improve their insurance rating and what they would have to do. One Lawrence County supervisor said that county’s rating of their volunteer departments was a 10, which is the lowest, causing insurance costs to remain high in the rural areas of Lawrence County.

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Volunteer fire departments in Pearl River County are maintaining an insurance rating of 8. Picayune’s rating is 6.

The procedures and training are required annually to maintain Pearl River County’s rating. The five departments involved in the operation on Saturday were, besides host Henleyfield, Pine Grove, Carriere, McNeill and Crossroads, which cover mostly the central western portion of the county.

It takes paid, full-time, around-the-clock firefighters at the fire station for volunteer departments to earn ratings below 8.

The lower the fire insurance rating, the lower the charges are for fire insurance policies offered to residents by insurance companies.

There are 12 volunteer departments covering all of Pearl River County. Picayune and Poplarville have paid fire department staffs, which guarantees a lower rating of 6.

Scott Sullivan, chief 0f the Henleyfield Volunteer Department, was in charge of the training on Saturday and the “water shuttle” exercise.

“Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty,” Sullivan told the firemen from the five volunteer departments at the Henleyfield fire station on Mississippi Highway 43 North, just north of the New Henleyfield Baptist Church, before they began their training session at the farm lakes on Nellie Burks Road in Henleyfield Community.

The exercises were held at the HRL trucking company site of Hensly Lee where two small lakes were available for siphoning water by tankers and transferring it to a pumper.

The procedure allowed officials to check the precise use of gallons per a set minute use, which they must pass in order to win the 8 rating, and also allowed officials to provide some hands-on training for the volunteer firemen.

The state requires the volunteer firefighters to undergo a certain of number of training per hour per year.

Volunteer departments out in the county must carry their water with them, says Sullivan. He said that is accomplished by setting up a pumper that pours water on the fire and the tankers transferring water from a source, such as a lake or pond, to water catch basins or pools from which the pumper draws water.

A successful episode that showed how successful local volunteer fire departments are at doing this was at the July 2009 Mississippi Mall fire in Picayune. Volunteer tankers kept Picayune’s heavy duty pumpers alive with water by a shuttle service when one of their main pumpers failed.

Rural departments had problems extinguishing fires in the rural areas before they acquired tankers because they had trouble carry enough water with them. Now the departments operate by using a system of pumpers and water tankers, allowing them to ferry water to the scene of the fire to have enough to put out the fires, said Sullivan.

The training and operations lasted most of the day on Saturday.