Volunteer firefighters receive certification

Published 7:00 am Friday, April 13, 2018

More than a dozen volunteer firefighters recently completed training to give them certification and make them more effective emergency responders.

Fourteen year veteran firefighter Tony Scharenbroch, who is the training officer for the Southeast Volunteer Fire Department and a full time firefighter with the St. Tammany Fire Department, conducted the training earlier this month in Pearl River County.

He said that 17 volunteer firefighters registered for the training, with 15 passing their final test at the state fire academy after two firefighters had to drop out of the class for personal reasons. Participants included volunteer firefighters from departments in Pearl River County and Hancock County.

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Scharenbroch said that when a person first becomes a member of a volunteer fire department, they aren’t allowed to enter a burning building or home until they receive the level 1 certification training he offered recently.

Volunteers who have not undergone the 88 hours and eight weeks of certification training can still help out with driving fire response vehicles or providing assistance around the department. Scharenbroch said he is also able to provide level 2 certification and plans to offer that training soon. 

The level 1 training included not only departmental protocols and procedures, but also the physical aspects of being a volunteer firefighter, such as rolling hoses, using ladders, tying knots, and how to use and hoist fire fighting tools.

After the trainees attended all of the classes, Scharenbroch administered a written test. After the written test, the trainees took a final test at the state fire academy where they were tasked with completing a set number of the physical skills in an allotted time, Scharenbroch said.

On average, about 20 percent of a volunteer department’s personnel are certified, Scharenbroch said, which is why he intends to continue offering the training.

With membership in local volunteer departments down, Scharenbroch said local departments are looking for new members. Interested parties willing to responding to emergencies will need to be at least 18-years-old. However there is a cadet program for children 14-years-old and older.

Volunteers do not need a CDL endorsement to drive a fire truck, but departments will require that anyone interested in driving a departmental vehicle undergo some special training.

Most departments conduct background checks on new recruits.  Anyone interested in volunteering who is unable to meet the physical demands can help out around a department with other tasks.

Potential volunteers should contact their local volunteer department or the Pearl River County Emergency Operations Center for more information.