NEW ALBANY, Miss. (WTVA) -- When most drivers see a fire truck coming toward them, they know to move out of the way.
That's part of the reasoning for a training session to assist volunteer fire departments in Union County.
The process will certify those firefighters as driver operators for the fire trucks.
"This is, I believe the third week of it. It's a 32-hour class," Southeast Volunteer Fire Department firefighter Lesley Rakestraw said.
Safety, Rakestraw said, is a big part of why they're doing this, but he said it also helps the department financially for the future.
"It'll help us whenever we get a FEMA grant to get the trucks," Rakestraw said. "It'll allow us to put it on the grants that we ask for, that yes, we do have a training program, and it'll reduce our liability if we have an accident in the future. Hopefully we won't."
Highway driving and obstacle navigation serves as most of the training, especially for someone like firefighter Heather Rumsey, considering she's never driven a fire truck before.
"It was very intense for me and exciting," Rumsey said. "I was worried about [the truck] being so big, but it was actually pretty great. And I did good, which I didn't expect."
However, it's not like driving a car.
"It's actually 28-30,000 pounds heavier," Myrtle Volunteer Fire Department firefighter Josh Turcotte said. "It doesn't stop as easily. And you've got water, about 2,000 gallons of water."
Knowing all that, the firefighters finally persuaded me to give it a try
The part of the obstacle course I'm navigating is a stretch of barrels on either side of the truck. The path between narrows until it's barely a hand-width between the fire truck.
To my surprise, I managed to make it through without hitting a barrel and also hit the target speed of 20 mph.
However, the brakes alone proved there was a bit of a learning curve to driving one.
Turcotte said these courses are much more in depth than that.
"Volunteering, you don't learn everything you need to know. You learn the basics to save your life, but this class teaches you what you need to know, what a full-time fire department would do," Turcotte said.
That's something these volunteers said they'll use every day they're on the clock.