GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - It is specialized training that could be a lifesaver for firefighters. The Seabee base in Gulfport is hosting a four-day safety exercise.
Rappelling off a three story building using a fire hose and keeping your focus while wrestling a 45 pound air pack in the hot summer sun. Both are a part of the Rapid Intervention Team Training.
"Come out of it. Bring it above your head," shouted the instructor from Alabama Fire College.
With the thermometer creeping toward 95, the trainer sounds more like a drill sergeant, as firefighters in full turnout gear learn to maintain their air packs.
"Once you've got it back on, let's doff it again. Bring it in front of you again, once you doff it. And stay there," the instructor commanded.
"That drill was established to get them aware of what happens when you get a little bit disoriented, to donn and doff your air packs. Teamwork is absolutely critical in this career field. It teaches firefighters how to work cohesively together and self rescue, should they need to. Buddy breathe. All things of that nature," said NCBC Fire Inspector Demetrius Baldwin.
The next drill involves rescue rappelling. From three stories up, that first step over the ledge is the most critical and nerve wracking. After that, it's all about technique.
"You've got to squeeze really hard with your legs," said one firefighter, as he reached the ground.
"Yeah, you do got to squeeze hard with your legs," added a colleague.
"See what Dave's doing? He's locking in right on top. I like that," said the instructor who was helping firemen out the window.
"They're doing a three story descent from a fire hose. Again, that's if inside the structure they can't get out due to stairs collapsed or something of that nature. They'll be able to self egress by using a fire hose. This is the most critical training we can do. Because it teaches us how to get out, and what to do if those situations occur," said Baldwin.
For the Seabee firefighters, this is actually lagniappe. It's not part of their regular required training. But some money was available to pay for this extra training session.
The specialized training continues at the Seabee base in Gulfport, through Thursday.