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Firefighters Use Training To Prepare for the Real Thing

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WAKE COUNTY — Every time the siren sounds, firefighters never know whether or not they will make it back to the station alive. That fear became all too real last week for two Wayne County firefighters.

But the training is also serious business.

Wake County shelled out about $1.5 million ten years ago to put together the state of the art Wake County Fire Training Center. The system is lifelike, and firefighters say the training is really their best and only insurance.

When the training center building is on fire, the temperature inside is a menacing 1,800 degrees. While we may not know how to approach it, firefighters have to. The building they train in is where they learn the unpredictability of fire that no textbook can match.

"If you make a mistake out here, you sit down and everybody gets the opportunity to critique and to learn from it. Nobody gets hurt, and we move on," said Cary Fire Department Captain Debbie Hilliard.

Firefighters throughout the state were reminded Friday just how dangerous their profession can be when two firefighters died in a warehouse fire near Goldsboro.

They are the first firefighters to die on duty in Wayne County's history.

Both volunteer and paid crews throughout the state say their safety is never guaranteed once they commit to a blaze.

While qualifications can vary from one department to the next, certified firefighters in any department have to meet state guidelines.

Most departments also apply state standards to the firefighting process, but judgment calls can change depending on the situation.

"It's uniform procedure on the scene. It's a coordinated effort by all companies operating that each group of workers know what the others are doing," said Wake Tech Fire Director Wayne Brower.

Officials say that communication is important, especially in a life and death situation.

The SBI as well as several other agencies are investigating the Wayne County fire. They say they will not know exactly what happened until later in the week.


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