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So you think you can fight fires? Take county fire services’ new classes

POSTED: February 22, 2008 5:01 a.m.
Always wanted to hold a high-pressure fire hose, ride in a fire engine or try a rescue in a smoke-filled building?

The Hall County Fire Services’ new Citizens Fire Academy might just be your thing.

The department is taking applications for the inaugural class of its citizens academy, which will meet every Tuesday night for 10 weeks, starting March 4. The 25 available slots are expected to go quickly.

While the Gainesville Police Department and Hall County Sheriff’s Office have held regular citizens academies for several years, the county fire department is one of only a handful of fire agencies in Georgia putting on a school for citizens.

"It’s something we’ve looked at doing for a long time," said Hall County Fire Marshal Scott Cagle. "The main goal is letting the public know who we are and what we do. A lot of people think we just put out fires, and it’s much more than that."

During the two-hour sessions, students will learn about first responder medical calls, hazardous material and rescue response, fire safety and inspections, and the myriad other services the department provides.

They’ll practice changing into the heavy-duty turnout gear and get a chance at shooting powerful streams of water at 45 pounds-per-square-inch or more, which "doesn’t compare" with your typical garden hose, Cagle said.

Officials hope to make the classes half classroom presentation, half hands-on.

The course material "will range from the history of the department, to how fires burn, to how we extinguish them and just how fire services have evolved," Cagle said.

Courses will be taught by a variety of instructors from within the department, depending on the subject. Fire Chief David Kimbrell will lead the first class orientation.

Cagle said the demand for a citizens fire academy has been high.

"We expect a great response," he said. "People have asked us to do this for a couple of years."

While public education is the main purpose, officials believe the academy may also serve as a recruiting tool.

"It would be nice to get some younger folks in who say, ‘this is something I want to do,’" Cagle said.

Those interested in attending the class must be at least 18 years of age and be in good physical condition if they choose to take part in physically strenuous exercises.

For a registration form, go to www.hallcounty.org, or call Hall County Fire Services at 770-531-6838.



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