Vehicle fire seminar offers hands-on training in Darlington - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Vehicle fire seminar offers hands-on training in Darlington

A vehicle was set on fire as part of a hands-on exercise in Darlington County. (Source: Darlington Fire Chief Danny Watson) A vehicle was set on fire as part of a hands-on exercise in Darlington County. (Source: Darlington Fire Chief Danny Watson)
A car is burned for investigation. (Source: Audrey Biesk) A car is burned for investigation. (Source: Audrey Biesk)

DARLINGTON, SC (WMBF) - A hands-on live vehicle fire training took place at the Darlington Fire Training Center to educate fire and law enforcement from all over South Carolina and North America.

It was a three-day seminar Darlington Fire has been waiting for almost a year to host.

The Public Agency Training Council puts on almost 900 of the investigation seminars a year. Steve Riggs has examined fires for almost 40 years and hosted the seminar at the Darlington site.

"I enjoy it because you can see they picked something up and say, 'Why didn’t someone ever tell me or show me this before?'" Riggs said. "I have a rare ability and burned over 600 test vehicles and I see things that are reproducible and I share it with them.”

Each donated vehicle was started in a different way and participants went over how to put out the fire and what exactly caused it. 

"They’ll actually apply those skills and conduct investigations, capture the photographs, document how the fire moved and tomorrow do presentations on the vehicle fires and evaluate what they learned,” Riggs said.

That’s the reason Mike Fairfield, a technical specialist with Caterpillar Dealer, came from Canada to get this hands on experience.

“It’s very important because sometimes, with vehicle fires like this, insurance companies can be involved if there is a death, if it’s a vehicle problem, a manufacturer's defect or recall that should be done," he said. "It needs to be brought to everyone’s attention and find out the actual cause”

Fairfield added it's not just on vehicles but on large machinery too. He thought of a time when this skill was vital to know.

“I was able to go to up to the fire north of Canada and discover the cause of the fire and report back to it, and after that, the company decided it would be good to know who was responsible and what caused the fire,” he said.

Riggs wants every participant to look back on the three days for when they are out working in the field. 

“Can they reproduce the same patterns down the road when they are looking at real fires in real neighborhoods and apply the skills?" he said

On Wednesday, the group will present and take their last written test. Those who want to attend a public agency training seminar can find the full schedule here.

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