40 South Plains fire departments are training in Lubbock - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

40 South Plains fire departments are training in Lubbock to keep you safe

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Monday more than 40 fire departments came to Lubbock to get hands-on training to keep you safe. 300 firefighters were at the 63rd annual Lubbock area fire conference.

Many of them were first timers and organizers say it is important to train in a controlled environment before sending them out on real fires.

"Fire experience is a whole different world than just reading about it in a book, or having somebody draw pictures or even looking at films of it," said Matt McGinnis with the Lubbock Fire Department.

Firefighters came from all across the South Plains. Many of them were taking classes to get certification, but others were getting their first look at real situations.

"You would never want to put in a person who is a first timer; especially someone who is so excited and wanting to do it for a long time to have a bad experience trying to put out a fire and endangering their life to do it," McGinnis said.

Exercises included putting out house fires, fighting fires near gas, and handling wildfires. Fire departments learned to use GPS technology to help them locate large wildfires faster with specific coordinates. 

"Within the next few days we're going to keep seeing these hot dry windy days come through and training like this is critical to keep people prepared in the field," said Justin Musgraves with the Texas Forest Service.

Several of the firefighters at the conference were out on grass fires Sunday and Monday.

To practice putting out a house fire, bales of hay were lit in a controlled building as crews were sent in to extinguish the blaze.

Next to the home, crews were busy battling a propane tank engulfed in flames. Firefighters used their water hose to push flames away from the gas so they could turn it off.

The wildfire class had one of the largest turnouts. With more wind expected by Thursday, now is the perfect time to learn.

"It's probably not a better time than during wildfire season to be able to get groups of people who are going to be doing that, fighting those fires, all together at the same places trying to figure out how to do it better," McGinnis said.

The conference continues through Thursday.

©2011 KCBD NewsChannel 11. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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