D'Iberville Firefighters Use Vacant Hotel To Train - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

D'Iberville Firefighters Use Vacant Hotel To Train

D'IBERVILLE (WLOX) -- An abandoned hotel became a proving grounds for D'Iberville firefighters Wednesday. They used the vacant building to test their search and rescue skills.

The firefighters hope this call never happens. Fire at a hotel prompts an evacuation, but a child is left behind, trapped somewhere on the second floor.

The vacant hotel building was the perfect place to practice that frightening scenario.

"Today's going to be a search and rescue training. We're also going to do some downed firefighter training," said training officer Jay Williams.

The former Travel Lodge hosted the firefighters-in-training. Before the vacant building is demolished, its owners agreed to let the fire department practice.

"We have not had a chance to use an empty building of this size to train with. So, them having this building abandoned and allowing us to use it is a wonderful thing for these guys to train with," said Williams.

The search and rescue scenario was simple. A six-year-old is trapped somewhere on the second floor. Locating the child quickly means the difference between a life saving rescue or body recovery.

"You've got an entry hallway right there to your left," said one firefighter to his partner, as the two crawled slowly along the hallway.

Firefighters crawl and feel their way through the darkened second floor. Imagine adding thick smoke and advancing flames.

Gerald Smith is D'Iberville's fire chief.

"In a situation like that, you've got heavy smoke. You're down on your knees, 'cause that's the only place you can really see when you can. And then to elevate the temperature about 2,000 degrees. It really makes it difficult," said the chief.

Training officer Williams showed us where the "mock child victim" was hiding.

"Most children, when they hide, where do they hide? In the closet. There is our six-year-old child," he said, motioning to a small figure made with taped fire hose.

It was tough enough to find the child with our camera light. Imagine crawling through a darkened maze, with added smoke and heat.

"That's all it is is hot. You've just got to keep a level head. You don't want to get overconfident in anything. Make sure you keep an eye on your air. Check out what's going on," said veteran fireman Joel Mayfield.

Their air packs running low, Mayfield and his partner still manage to rescue the child.

"You always got to stay calm. Keep a level head and you can get the job done," said a smiling but tired Mayfield.

The D'Iberville fire department is making the most of the abandoned building. Along with practicing firefighter drills, they also used the building for hazardous materials training.

By Steve Phillips 

Powered by Frankly