This weekend in McAlester, hundreds of volunteer fire departments are training to save property and lives. For many of them, staying up to date on training is difficult. The McAlester Firefighter Classic hosts free training and it's training that the volunteers wouldn't be able to get anywhere else.
More than 100 agencies and 400 firefighters suited up to feel the heat. One training class is done in a flash over simulator that allows the firefighters to feel fire that reaches 1,200 degrees. With this training, the firefighters feel more prepared to go to work.
"When it's game time, we can go in and properly do what we need to do," Luther firefighter Alan Morgan said.
Morgan said this training is something his department desperately needs to be ready to help their community and with all the nearby agencies coming to the same classes they are ready to be mutual aid.
"We have met these guys up here. We know what training they have and it's all on a standard bass training program. So, we roll up on scene, we have all these guys that we know, hey we went through training with these guys, we know what kind of training they are going to do," Morgan said.
Luther Fire Department has eight of their firefighters attending as many classes as possible and will work with each other to train the other firefighters.
Limestone Fire Department was the most northerly department that made it to McAlester and they sent just as many firefighters to take classes. One of their firefighters took a class on using a foam truck to help with the different terrain they face.
"Really helps us when we get on a scene to help preserve our water, so of our areas we have a lot of hydrates and some areas we don't have any," Limestone firefighter Jeremy Hewin said.
Since many of these departments don't have the budget to take these types of classes, they send as many of their staff as they can.
"To keep our firefighters safe, that's what it is as safe as possible give them the knowledge they need to do their job," Luther Fire Chief Jason Miller said.
Many of the department attend year after year and more so because they are now offering advance training such as how to get people out of a wrecked car.
"We got a lot of hands on stuff and there are also a lot of informational classes that aren't hands on at all but it's all vital to what we do," Miller said.
The McAlester Fire Department, Pittsburg County Firefighters Association, and McAlester Kiamichi Technology Center make these classes available each year.