Bailey RichardsStaff Reporter
August 28, 2012
HAZARD — One of the largest fire schools in Kentucky was recently held in Hazard with more than 500 attendees.
This year marked the 34th year that the Mountain Fire Fighters Association’s hosted the school, which has grown to include a wide variety of classes and a huge number of firefighters. The classes range for chaplain training to how to handle a suicide bombing.
Hazard Fire Chief Sam Stacy, who is also the president of the Kentucky Firefighters Association, said that the diversity in the types of classes offered was greater this year.
“We have more classes this year than ever before,” he said. “We had a Department of Defense class, and there were only two offered in the state of Kentucky, and one was in Hazard.”
Many of the classes were tailored to fit current disaster concerns. A weather disaster class focused on the tornadoes from this past spring and a meth lab fire class focused on how to fight this specific type of explosive fire.
“Meth lab class, it has been going on for a while, but the interest has started to pick up,” Stacy explained. “You keep seeing more and more of this stuff happening.”
Another class that can be difficult to find but accounts for a large percentage of fires taught tactics for fighting fires in manufactured homes.
“We offered a couple of new ones, one was called fires in manufactured homes,” Stacy added. “That is one that hasn’t been offered to many places in the state.”
This year’s fire school had 500 people preregister, though many more registered on the day the school beginning on August 25. Chief Stacy said they are still working on figuring out just how many people came this year.
“I would be afraid to even guess,” he said. “There was a slew of them.”
The sheer number of people coming into the area helps to increase traffic to many of the businesses in Hazard. Because of this, Chief Stacy said that Hazard and Perry County Tourism have been big financial backers of the school. Along with tourism the school gets money from the Perry County Fiscal Court and the City of Hazard. This money that is donated to the school keeps the school free to participants.
“Everything that we do doesn’t cost them a penny,” Stacy said.
These accommodations extended to a massive picnic in the park that was attended by more people this year than ever before.
“It went real good actually,” said Chief Stacy. “The picnic in the park was bigger than ever. I think everybody likes free food.”
The school hosts people from across the commonwealth that are looking to get different kinds of certifications or trying to accumulate mandatory hours of training. Chief Stacy said that volunteer firefighters must do 20 hours of training per year to maintain certification, and this fire school can take care of up to 16 hours of those.
He added that they try to make the fire school both interesting and informative by offering such a wide variety of classes.
“We just try to make it so that everybody can have fun and get the hours that they need,” he said.