Firefighters train in use of heavy equipment

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PEARL, Miss. (WTOK) - The Southern Regional Fire Center in Pearl is hosting the Geographic Area Heavy Equipment Operator Academy this week.

"What we're doing is we're pulling all the biggest and the brightest and the most experienced heavy equipment operators from all the southern states and we're putting them here in Mississippi to train students," says Randy Giachelli, Mississippi Forestry Commission fire chief.

This training involves the use of heavy equipment such as bulldozers in suppressing wildfire growth.

Organizers say they believe that this training will have far-reaching effects.

"We have students from California, from Virginia, you know, and all the southern states here," said Giachelli. "And what they'll do is they'll bring that knowledge back to their agency and teach their counterparts."

The center is treating this training as if there were a real fire incident, and involving everyone normally associated with fighting fires.

"We’re training the IMT team. We're training task force leaders. We're training heavy equipment bosses down to heavy equipment operators so we can send single resource heavy equipment bosses to California with this knowledge," said Giachelli. "And that's a safer firefighter, you know. The main goal is to fight fire safely. How safe can we do it and what do we need to do to train these guys to fight them safely?"

The training equips firefighters with the best knowledge and techniques, but cooperation from the general public is also necessary.

"We’re doing everything we can do to train these firefighters to suppress these fires in a quick, safe manner," said Giachelli. "You know the public's got to know to watch what they're burning and where they're burning and please don't burn on windy days."