PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - Smoke filled the old M&M Bank off Old Mobile Road Monday as a team of Pascagoula firefighters rushed in. But it wasn't a real structure fire. It was a controlled simulation.
"It's invaluable training that we typically don't get unless we have a real fire," said Captain Jon Hyatt.
Hyatt says the conditions mimicked what firefighters experience during a blaze.
"It's smoked out, no visibility, communications hampered by the fact that they have this mask on and it's hard to hear and transmit outside," Hyatt said.
But without the dangers of the real thing.
"This is where you want to make your mistakes in training and correct them because in the real world mistakes might cost you your life," Hyatt said.
The old M&M Bank was loaned to the department just for these exercises. Thermal imaging cameras allowed a glimpse at the conditions inside.
"Lotta crawling around, communication, retrieving dummies, simulating fires out," said Captain Wade Johnson.
The men went through a series of scenarios all aimed at making the department stronger.
"It's a lot better than training around the station," said Hyatt.
"From the drivers to firefighter operators to the battalion chiefs to the chief, everyone is getting something out of it," said Johnson.
A debrief followed the exercises to discuss the successes and areas for improvement with the hope that the firefighters will leave the old bank feeling more confident about doing their jobs.
Following the training, the M&M Bank will be demolished. The department is now looking for more buildings to hold similar training exercises. Owners who would like to offer their buildings should contact the Central Fire Station at (228) 762-3066.