Buckhannon Firefighters hone skills during summer training sessions; Ready for National Preparedness Month

BUCKHANNON – Did you know that September is National Preparedness Month? The Buckhannon Fire Department is even more prepared for emergency response thanks to multiple training events held over the summer, keeping our firefighters at the top of their game and the community safe.

The planned removal of Camden Apartments at West Virginia Wesleyan College allowed the department to hold multiple training courses in the building prior to demolition in June thanks to a partnership with the college. Mayor McCauley, Buckhannon City Council, and Fire Chief JB Kimble jumped on the opportunity. Chief Kimble stated, “we accumulated over 400 hours of training that week” thanks to the collaboration between the City and West Virginia Wesleyan College.

The Buckhannon Fire Department held two training courses during the demolition: Enhanced Search Methodology (how to quickly advance through a house while conducting adequate searches with zero visibility & limited staffing (three-person crew) and Rapid Intervention (a two-day course, removal of downed firefighters in near-zero visibility).

More recently, the West Virginia University Extension Office conducted a confined space rescue training at the Elkins Fire Department and follow-up training at the Buckhannon Public Safety Complex, with both the Buckhannon and Elkins fire departments participating. Twelve Buckhannon Fire Department and Volunteer Fire Department members participated in the 16-hour training.

JB Kimble shared that, “Through the (Commission on Fire Accreditation International) accreditation process, we have identified training needs and have been able to address some of those needs through these courses.”

The Buckhannon Fire Department is staffed with a combination of seven career and nineteen volunteer firefighters trained in fire suppression, incident management, hazardous materials mitigation, vehicle and machinery rescue, confined space rescue, water rescue, dive operations, and basic life support.

The department’s first due area, or the geographic area in which the fire department is expected to respond with primary responsibility, spans the City of Buckhannon and a large part of Upshur County, home to a population of about 13,000 residents. When including mutual aid and automatic aid agreement areas where a neighboring fire department has primary response duty, that number increases to approximately 25,000 residents protected in part by the Buckhannon Fire Department.

The Buckhannon Fire Department is seeking national accreditation through the Commission on Fire Accreditation International and will be the first fire department in West Virginia with this accreditation. The department’s standard operating procedures follow guidelines put forth by the National Fire Protection Agency and National Incident Management System (NIMS).

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