Firefighters training at the State Fire Academy


PEARL, Miss. (WJTV)- Firefighters from all over Mississippi put their skills to the test at the Smoke Diver Class training program in Pearl.

 12 News’ Kate Cornell attended the second day of the program.

The Smoke Diver is an annual five-day course that the Mississippi Fire academy has been holding for 43 years.

Instructor Chief with the Mississippi Fire Academy Shannon Sandrich says, “It’s a class full of everything that they might be exposed to in the real world.”

Sandrich says, “I’d like to see them walk away with more confidence in themselves when they come to this course we want them to learn more about their gear and their equipment. We want them to be more comfortable and we want them to know what they can do in that gear and when they need to push a little bit further, they can.”

Russell McCullar, a senior instructor with the Mississippi Fire Academy, says, “We have young firefighters attend the program who are right out of their basic training… And we also have seasoned veterans who have many years on the job”, said McCullar.

Directors explain that they try to add as much stress to these firefighters as possible during the simulation so it is as realistic as possible when duty does call.

McCullar says, “Stress is induced by pressure from the instructors and from the cumulative effect from wearing that turnout gear inside the heat building for an extended period of time.”

 But training isn’t the only thing that brought these fighters out.

Hoods for Heroes is an insurance company that raises money to supply a new piece of gear for firefighters. They joined the fighters to raise awareness and funds to supply replacements.

Jeff Rountree, the CEO of Hoods for Heroes, explained that recent research has proven that the traditional style firefighting hoods are actually more of a danger than they are protective…               

Jeff Rountree says, “It’s actually a gateway for chemicals when the firefighters are fighting a fire… it soaks the soot and chemicals through their current hoods and actually goes onto the skin so it’s led to these higher rates of incidents of cancer.”

Rountree explained that they are very passionate about protecting first responders and lowering the number of cancer diagnoses for firefighters all over the world.

You can find out how you can contribute to Hoods for Heroes on their website.

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