Public Safety Weekend brings needed training

Published 10:42 pm Sunday, March 12, 2017

Beaufort County Community College attracted emergency personnel from across the state to its second-annual Public Safety Weekend.

One hundred and twenty fire, emergency medical and law enforcement personnel took advantage of the classes from March 3-5 to fulfill their annual training requirements.

Each year, emergency personnel are required to attend 36 hours of training, of which 35 percent can be at a training facility. Before BCCC started hosting Public Safety Weekend, rescue workers, the majority of whom are volunteers, had to travel to other counties to fulfill their requirements. For some of the firefighters, it was their first exposure to different scenarios.

Jenny Williams, a firefighter at Old Ford Volunteer Fire Department and a student in the fire academy at BCCC, said, “It’s for our safety. It’s for the public’s safety. If we don’t learn how to do it correctly, one of us may not go home, and if we don’t know how to put out the fire, there’s nothing that we can do, and that’s what we’re there for.”

Firefighters practiced a mayday exercise in which non-toxic smoke was pumped into the pitch-black fire training building, and they had to make their way around it.

Firefighters spent March 4 training as teams on fire hoses to put out a propane or LP fire. A propane tanker truck arrived March 5 to allow them to practice the scenario with live fire. The prevalence of LP as a heating fuel locally makes this training essential in Beaufort County.

Medical personnel practiced basic lifesaving skills on mannequins, with one class focused on pediatric life support. Law enforcement personnel compete throughout the weekend to see who has the best aim, a competition called Top Shot, and for the second year in a row, the N.C. State Highway Patrol won the competition.

Sponsors such as PotashCorp, Rhinehart Fire Services, Beaufort County Fire Association and Code 3 Insurance helped make the weekend a possibility by providing lunch and supplies. The college is in the process of expanding facilities to train emergency personnel. The new facilities will include a driving pad for emergency vehicle training, as well as classrooms and storage space for props including emergency vehicles.

For more information about the fire academy, contact Johnny Williams at 252-940-6363 or For more information about EMS programs, contact Billy Respass at 252-940-6468 or For law enforcement programs, contact Todd Alligood at 252-940-6405 or