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Training to be the best

The Atmore Fire Department trains its firefighters seven days a week. Above: Firefighter Eugene Edwards crawls through one of the obstacle courses at the training center. | Submitted photo

The Atmore Fire Department trains its firefighters seven days a week. Above: Firefighter Eugene Edwards crawls through one of the obstacle courses at the training center. | Submitted photo

“Rescue Randy” may be missing a few limbs and a little lighter in weight, but the rescue-training dummy is a vital aspect of the Atmore Fire Department’s training center.

The current training center used to be the old fire department, and is used as a hub for firefighters and police officers to refresh their training memory.

Capt. Daniel Love, who is over the training center, said the AFD is averaging 20 hours of training a month per firefighter.

“We train every day, seven days a week,” Love said.

The training center is located adjacent to the current AFD building, right behind Nancy’s.

Inside includes a classroom for CPR training, an American Heart Standard course, and HAZMAT and EMT refreshers.

Fire Chief Ronald Peebles said the training center is for the whole city, not just for firefighters, and added that hurricane debris meetings have been held at the center.

Peebles said the inside of the center didn’t look like it does now, and added that it can hold 32 people at one time.

“If you can believe it, this used to be the truck bay (of the old food bank),” Peebles said while standing in the back room. “We did all of this ourselves. We brought the floor up level as best we could.”

Peebles said the center is used for a lot of refreshers for the firefighters, as each department has to meet certain ISO standards.

“This has come in handy,” Peebles said.

To pay for the renovation of the center, Peebles said the department sold the old copper gutters.

Next to the classroom is an area for storage and the obstacle course, which allows firefighters to go through self-rescue training, wall breaching and for the rapid intervention team (RIT).

Love said he usually builds the props to make the obstacle course for the firefighters to train. Props are the walls that are built and obstacles that are thrown in firefighters’ way.

Peebles said the obstacle course also allows firefighters to practice their maday drills.

Peebles said “Rescue Randy” is often placed in the obstacle course at random spots for firefighters to perform a rescue.

While “Rescue Randy” has lost a few pounds, the dummy and the center’s role in training firefighters has been beneficial to the department, Peebles said.