Nineteen recruits with the Grand Junction Fire Department just ended their 8th week of training Friday for their 12 Week Academy to get certified.
The firefighters first start their training in a maze – it has lots of tight spaces and trap doors which helps build their confidence to continue on to the next level of firefighting training.
That next level of training begins with the recruits chopping through a log, simulating chopping through a floor in order to ventilate a structure. From there, the fire recruits raise a ladder to a 3rd story building where they climb the ladder and haul equipment up and down. They also had to carry some equipment up and down some flights of stairs in order to simulate getting that equipment to the fire.
And finally, the recruits enter a smoke filled room where they have to search for a person. This drill is considered the most physical and mentally challenging out of all the exercises because the recruits are blacked out to the point where they are unable to see anything. Then, they have the task of searching through the room and finding a person -and then dragging them out.
But the Captain for the Grand Junction Fire Department, Gus Hendricks, says that big muscles aren't the only necessity for the job. "I think the biggest thing it takes to be a firefighter is the love of the job– beyond that, helping people, it is a job but it's fun."
For the Grand Junction Fire Department it's also a brotherhood and a rewarding job experience.
Next week, the 19 recruits will perform a live fire training exercise in Rangely.