The Statesboro Fire Department (SFD) has partnered with Georgia Southern University (GS) to perform training exercises on the University’s Statesboro Campus at University Villas. The three weeks of exercises provides provides firefighters with access to a multi-level, multi-unit structure for training opportunities before University Villas is demolished. 

SFD training
Firefighters make entrance to the structure during training Credit: Grice Connect

With these trainings, firefighters will practice hose advancement, search and rescue, and interior forcible entry. During the the exercises, fire apparatus and firefighters around University Villas may be visible from Chandler Road. 

SFD Training Captain Parker Johnson shared how valuable this unique training scenario was for the firefighters. College housing floor plans are much different than traditional houses or apartments. The basic design of student housing is the same with multiple bedrooms sharing a common kitchen and living space. This allows for much higher occupancy often in multi story structures. Many of the apartments at University Villas have a third floor accessible only by a small spiral staircase.

“We owe a huge thanks to Georgia Southern for allowing us this opportunity,” said SFD Training Captain Parker Johnson. “Especially GS Police Chief Laura McCullough and GS Fire and Life Safety Director Chris Colson for helping make this training possible.”

SFD training
L-R: SFD Training Captain Parker Johnson talks with GS Fire and Life Safety Director, Chris Colson. Credit: Grice Connect

Even though there was no actual fire set during the training, they used smoke machines to lower visibility and had life sized mannequins placed in different rooms of the structure. During the training the firefighters were in full firefighting gear, including self contained breathing apparatus and the hoses were charged with water. They wanted to make the training as real life as possible.

The central location of the apartments and having access to them for several weeks, allowed them to bring all four fire companies out for training. This allowed every firefighter to go through the training exercises.

Preparation and training is a key element to the Statesboro Fire Departments success. Firefighters are required to have 240 hours of training annually. Much of this is hands on training.

“Any opportunity we have to train with local emergency personnel is important for us,” said Chris Colson, GS Fire and Life Safety Director. “The more opportunity they have in a non emergency scenero to become more familiar with our campus and the structures is a win for all of us.”

Colson is a native of Statesboro and was a firefighter at SFD for over a decade before becoming GS Fire and Safety Director for all the campuses. Because of this he has a deep understanding of how the department operates and great relationships with the firefighters.

SFD training
SFD firefighters breaking down hoses after training Credit: Grice Connect

Actual demolition on University Villas is slated to begin July 11, with total completion of the project (a parking lot) projected for the end of March 2023. They are also looking at EV charging stations in this space as well. 

DeWayne Grice

Herschel DeWayne Grice is the founder of Grice Connect an online news and information company in Statesboro, Georgia. DeWayne has been active in the media for over three decades. He brings a unique insight...