Firefighters face additional pressures amid COVID-19 pandemic

Virus has effected how first responders help the community

Emergency responders explain the need for ongoing training

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - New Hanover County Fire Rescue conducted a live fire training in the Monkey Junction area for junior staff members to get more realistic experience as well as a chance for seasoned firefighters to brush up on skills.

Battalion Chief Michael Pinson says the training is quite effective even though they don’t do it as much as they would like.

“It’s designed to allow the firefighters the ability to train in as realistic, as well as safe, environment as possible,” said Pinson.

Firefighting has always been known to be a high risk job, but the destructive nature of COVID-19 has added an extra layer of challenges.

“We have to socially distance, and wear masks, and follow the mandates that everyone else has to follow. And, we also have to provide service to the community when they need it. And for the fire service — we are here often times on somebody’s worst day of their life and we are here to help,” says Fire Captain Blake Turner.

During the live fire training, firefighters had to battle blazing infernos, large plumes of smoke, and charred debris.

Turner says the hardest obstacles he has faced in the past year have been the social distancing requirements and the task of communicating with an additional layer of face covering.

“The past year — probably the separation, and wearing the masks do add a little bit of a communication challenge; we haven’t been able to get out in the community and do this type of event, just due to the restrictions and having to stay distanced.”

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