Gordon County Firefighters Conduct Training in Building Slated for Demolition


Firefighters perform vertical ventilation by opening up the flat roof.

It served as a department store, a grocery store, then as a car dealership, but just days before its slated demolition, the building located behind the Dunkin Donuts™ and the Race Trac™ became a smorgasbord of training for Gordon County Fire Rescue’s firefighters.

Leading the charge was Division Chief of Training, Nathan Saylors. “Opportunities like this one for such realistic training for our firefighters are one in a million. Not every day is there a building like this available for firefighters to be able to have full access and go in and do whatever they want to the building,” said Chief Saylors.


Firefighters begin removing the internal wall covering in order to begin the arduous task of creating a hole in the exterior masonry wall.

Larry Dixon Construction was slated to tear the building down in just a few days. “If not for the generosity of the contractor who was scheduled to demolish the building, we may never have had this unique opportunity. Mr. Dixon gave us permission to be on the property and to use the building to train our firefighters in the skills and scenarios they wouldn’t normally get to train for,” said Chief Saylors. “I’d also like to thank Lieutenant Heath Duke for his assistance in acquiring permission to use the structure.”

On June 17, 18, and 19, suppression division personnel from both the full-time and per call firefighters participated in this valuable training. Evolutions and scenarios consisted of scene size-up and ventilation of commercial flat roofs, search and rescue tactics, MAYDAY procedures for when firefighters find themselves trapped in a collapse, proper procedures for breaching a masonry wall for self-rescue, forcible entry through windows and commercial roll-up and swinging doors.


A firefighter checks his work to determine if the hole is yet wide enough to self-extricate through it.

“It was hot, but it was a great opportunity for me to see the true capabilities of the roof saw,” said one firefighter. “Yeah, there’s a tremendous difference in ventilating a flat roof vs. a pitched roof. We were taught how to vent the pitched roof with a fire axe and pike pole in basic fire school, but this was a new experience for me,” stated another firefighter. Yet a third firefighter said, “I’ll tell you, I now have a new appreciation for the hand-tools we carry with us inside a fire. Although it was a bit of work, I realize that just because it’s a block wall doesn’t mean I have to die in there if I become trapped, disoriented, or low on air. With my hand-tools, although I know they are coming for me as soon as I call MAYDAY, I don’t have to wait for my buddies to come find me. I now know that my partner and I can work together with the tools we have to bust our way through a block wall and save ourselves.”


Exterior firefighters assist the two interior firefighters as they make their exit through the hole created in the masonry wall.

Deputy Fire Chief Byron Sutton said, “I couldn’t be more proud of our firefighters. It was hot out there, but those guys charged forward and attacked each scenario as if their lives depended on it, as someday it very well could. Fire doesn’t wait until the weather is perfect, these guys know that. Rain, snow, whatever, if you call, we are coming.  The weather may slow us down a bit, but we will be there.  They know we must train just like we fight.  I commend Chief Saylors for his knowledge and ability to work with each of our firefighters as they took on each challenge. The officers and firefighters who assisted him with instruction of this valuable training are also to be commended. They did an outstanding job.”

On behalf of the men and women of Gordon County Fire Rescue, we want to thank Larry Dixon of Dixon Construction for this amazing opportunity for our firefighters to practice these various life-saving skills. If you were to ask any of them, they would say the training was trying, taxing on the body, but valuable training for every firefighters toolbox.



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