Hundreds of firefighters flock to Hardin County for Tennessee River Training Weekend

HARDIN COUNTY, Tenn. — This weekend was the 9th annual Tennessee River Training Weekend, and Hardin County Fire Chief Melvin Martin says it was a great way for volunteer firefighters or firefighters that may not have many opportunities to fight fires, to be put in real life scenarios, learning tactics and techniques that will prepare them for anything.

“Our goal is to provide a low cost training, high quality and low cost training, for volunteer firefighters across the state and surrounding area,” said Martin.

“We’re bringing scenarios that are as close to real as we can get it, so that whenever they do encounter a real situation, a real fire, that they’re better prepared in the long run to do the number one thing that we do, which is save citizens,” said Craig Hicks, instructor for Dixie Firemanship.

Chief Martin says this year over 300 firefighters were in attendance from across the southeast.

“It’s awesome just to see how they think and the kind of things that they do in their department, as opposed to what we do in the south,” said Dustin Simmons from the Florence, Alabama Fire Department.

He says they had the opportunity to learn from over 20 different exercises taught by over 40 instructors.

“We’ve got simulated commercial doors, we’ve got residential doors, security doors, glass doors, front doors; and what this does is offer firefighters an opportunity to train in forceful entry,” said Eric Sacharczyk, instructor for the Tennessee State Fire Academy.

“We’re teaching forceful entry techniques, getting inside of a building that may be locked up, teaching VES, going through a window, searching for potentially trapped victims, and then bringing in hose lines,” Hicks said.

Firefighters we spoke with say, what they’ve learned from the exercises performed this weekend, will not only benefit them, but also the rest of their department.

“Different forceful entry tactics, the search, and dragging a victim out; I can take all that back to Florence and teach guys there,” Simmons said.

Chief Martin says, out of the over 300 firefighters that got certified this weekend, 75 of them were from right there in Hardin County.

He also says the fire department plans on hosting the training event again next year, which is always the first weekend in November.