VIRGINIA BEACH-- The Virginia Beach Fire Department held its structure collapse school for the fourteenth year Wednesday at the Virginia Beach Fire Training Center.
The program was developed by Beach firefighters, based on their FEMA experiences at disasters like Oklahoma City, the Pentagon and the World Trade Center.
After 14 years, word has spread and 102 teams of experienced firemen from across the country and 40 instructors have come to Virginia Beach to participate.
"Even in the tough economy, when cities don't have a tremendous amount of money to send guys out for training, we are still getting good interest in the school," said Capt Jon Rigolo.
Nick Jones with the Columbus, Ohio Fire Department says what he is learning is invaluable.
"The thing about the service that we are in, is you never know what you are going to come across. And every single one of these things that we are learning this week is just a tool in a toolbox," Jones said.
The participants learn tunnel work to extricate trapped victims, rope work, drilling techniques, structure reinforcement and hand signals.
The training is 80 hours over 8 days. It ends Saturday with a written exam and simulated disaster where the students can apply what they've learned into a real-life scenario.