COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Columbus Fire and EMS is moving forward in the process of possibly adding 34 new firefighters to their team.
Thursday, they began their first day of active drill training. It’s the first day of a nine-week process for new hires to be certified firefighters.
“We have to get them out and have them trained up to 100 percent so they can act in those absences of the firefighters that have left in the past,” says Division Chief Daniel Macon.
They’re working to fill a shortage of nearly 40 vacant positions. The first step in training is called the stress test. It’s where trainees get acclimated to the up to 75 pounds of gear they wear in the field.
“They get used to moving in it, crawling in it, climbing in it and doing what they need to do in the firefighter job,” says Macon.
The next challenges are working a hose and climbing. Normally it’s a 14-week process, but this class will only be in the field for 9 weeks.
“We shortened it up. It’s normally 14 to 16 weeks but we had to shorten it up due to our shortage in the field. Your mind wants you to quit but your body continues to go. That’s what we want to instill in them,” says Trainer Brian Tharp.
After firefighting training, there’s EMS training. The same firefighters you see kicking in a door could be the ones to give a vaccine to patients on certain days. They also have to train for active duty situations. Macon says the department is the highest trained department in the city. He says after this training class, they will bring in a new class of trainees to work and fill the shortage of first responders.