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TUPELO, MISS. (WCBI) – Every Tupelo firefighter spends time at the training center and all of them must pass through the heat building. The cinderblock structure is used to simulate real life situations. I was invited to join a group of experienced firefighters in some exercises, and in the process fulfill a boyhood dream.

First , I had to put on the bunker gear, each piece of equipment plays a vital role in helping a firefighter do his job, and protecting the first responder.

As if it’s not hot enough already, we put on about 60 pounds of equipment, then we’re going inside the building where they have the smoke going.

Our first task is called a search and rescue pattern drill. Firefighters have a saying, ‘ if you can’t see your feet, hit your knees” so we spent most of our time crawling through the smoke filled building. At times, visibility was zero. Teamwork is a critical factor.

“Individual in the lead stays in contact with the wall, either with right hand or left hand, he’s in contact with wall entire time while his teammates are in contact with him, sweeping and searching the center of the room looking for victim that is down. When you find victim he reverses his pattern and that should lead him back to door he came in on.” said Battalion Chief Bill Wardlaw.

After the search and rescue pattern drill, firefighters are simulating a kitchen fire, we’re going to back into the building and see what real heat and flames feel like in all that gear.

While the heat index was 94 , inside the building, the flames at the stove hit 1 thousand degrees, and the mercury hit 300 where we were standing. This serves as a confidence builder for the firefighters.

“That’s what we are trying to do is teach these guys, ok, it’s hot in therebut that gear is letting you do work inside a 200 or 300 degree room,” Wardlaw said.

Back outside, the gear comes off and it’s time for a water break. Hydration is key, whether in a controlled setting, or in a real life situation, where all that training is put to use.

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