Volunteer fire departments rely on their communities for support in many areas.
For several departments in Carter and Love counties, that includes training exercises. Saturday morning, more than 25 volunteer firefighters from the region joined together for training at the Ardmore Industrial Airpark in Gene Autry.
Jason Woydziak, the training officer for Ardmore Fire Department, said this is the second year the training “rodeo” has been put on.
“It was really Paul Tucker’s idea,” Woydziak said.
Tucker is the emergency management director for Carter County. Both Tucker and AshLeigh Gillham, his counterpart in Love County, were at the Airpark for the training exercises as well.
“We have several classes broken up into three hour blocks,” Woydziak said. “With fire behavior, they’re learning the characteristics of fire and those things that can kill firefighters like backdrafts.”
Woydziak said the class members will go through several obstacle courses and training set ups that give them experience with situations they will face when in the field. They also cover other skills, like pump mechanics.
“You have to know how to operate the pump truck,” Woydziak said. “Some of these folks have been around fire services a long time, some haven’t.”
Woydziak said this weekend’s training had folks with anywhere from two weeks to more than 30 years of experience fighting fires.
 “We want to show them everything from ignition to a fully developed fire to the decay stage,” Woydziak said. “We built a small room where they will be enclosed in a small space that will get up to 400 degrees, the same conditions they may see in a fire situation.”