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Alabama Fire College teaches structural collapse course

Published: Jun. 30, 2021 at 5:50 PM CDT
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WBRC) - A structural collapse class is taught at the Alabama Fire College in Tuscaloosa twice a year. Wednesday, the college’s executive director explained what goes into the training.

“Before they start cutting or breaching or jack hammering or these sorts of things, they have to make a small hole. They have to put a camera inside and see if a victim is near,” Matt Russell, the Executive Director of the Alabama Fire College, explained.

He described what they train fire fighters to do, using a tunnel that’s part of the school’s structural collapse course. It’s one of several scenarios fire fighters are put through.

“Structural collapse is considered high risk and low frequency events. They don’t occur very often, but they are risky,” Russell went on to say.

The structural collapse course consists of two training sites used in an 80-hour class that is split into eight 10-hour days. “They’re extremely labor intense. They’re equipment intensive at the end of the day these guys are beat. It’s a lot if physical labor from breaking and breaching, lifting,” Russell continued.

Fire fighters are not only cutting through concrete and steel, they also have to carefully move heavy chunks of debris as if there may be someone under it. Russell anticipates there may be more interest in the course going forward in light of last week’s South Florida condo collapse.

“Anytime you have a major incident of this nature, that’s there’s a national incident, there’s always renewed interest,” Russell expressed.

The course isn’t taught during the summer because of the heat and physical effort that goes into structural collapse class. The next class resumes in late Fall.

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