Orangeburg County (SC) Wants More Training for Smaller Fire Departments

The chairman of the Orangeburg County Fire Advisory Board says training that enables firefighters to enter a burning residence or structure should be required for all Orangeburg County firefighters, reports The Times and Democrat.

"Even the smallest departments need the training," Carl Thompson told the Orangeburg County Fire Commission during its monthly meeting. "It is a different fire now to what it was 10 years ago because of the materials being made and the cheap wood they are being made out of. It burns hotter and it burns faster."

Thompson said the proper training of firefighters is crucial to prevent injury and death and is a standard the Occupational Safety and Health Administration will examine should there be any job-related injuries within the fire district.

"OSHA requires training," he said. "They treat a volunteer like they treat a full-time firefighter. They don't want to hear that you don't have time to train."

Just this past year, Orangeburg County trained about 70 firefighters to reach the Firefighter I level.

The county is considered a pilot program, enabling firefighters to get training locally rather than having to travel to the South Carolina Fire Academy in Columbia for it. A Firefighter 1 can enter a burning house or building under OSHA standards.

Thompson said currently about 50 percent of the district's 400 volunteers have reached the Firefighter I level. Those who have not reached level I are only allowed to man equipment and to fight fires exteriorly.

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