Less than a week into their careers as fire fighters, new Rockford fire recruits gear up, but they aren't battling blazes just yet. They have to go through an extensive training program first.
The recruits have to complete 14 weeks of training before they can graduate. Their lessons begin with the basics.
"How to get out of tight spots, controlling our breathing," says Isaiah Cattage, one of 21 recruits. As a Rockford native, he says it's an honor to be serving on the city's fire department. But he has a lot of training to do.
Lt. Brian Drerup, Training Coordinator, says "Today they're going through some mazes and in the mazework it's just becoming proficient on using their air packs and being able to shift their air packs and get them through tight openings."
For some of the recruits, this is one of the first times they have worn their gear. But it's not all about drills and exercises. The men spend time in a classroom setting almost every day.
"Right now they're taking a test on SCBA and their personal protective equipment and it goes through everything from how to put it on, how it's supposed to be made, to how they're supposed to use it, and how they're supposed to maintain it as far as cleaning it," says Drerup.
Many of these recruits had never met each other before being sworn in. Cattage says getting to know one another is just as important as the skills they are learning. "We formed a brotherhood already. make sure we gotta do that first. once you get into a situation you'll learn last. you'll know their names you'll know everything."
Next week the recruits will be learning how to put up ladders, and cut holes in burning buildings.
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