Day Two….We began class with all 21 recruits present!
The academy schedule has been roughly organized into: classroom sessions in the morning; a 30 minute brown bag lunch on site; afternoon practical training; and the one hour of physical training at the end of the day.
The morning classes today focused on the history of the fire service, Saint Paul Fire Department organization and operations, and firefighter safety. Instructors from Hennepin Technical College, led by Mr. Bernie Vrona, provided the core training required for firefighter certification, while Saint Paul Fire Training Division personnel provided the details on department operations and procedures.
Today we also got a detailed “tour” of our Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – the bunker pants and coat, helmet, boots and gloves that will protect us from heat, cold, and injuries on the fireground. Each part of the ensemble was examined and inspected, and then we practiced putting on the entire ensemble. Firefighter certification requires that a firefighter don the entire ensemble within 60 seconds. I was pretty consistently completing that task in about 45 seconds by the end of the practice session. The entire process looks like this: kick off your shoes; put on the hood, step into the boots and pull the pants up, pull the suspenders over your shoulders, put the coat on, pull the hood over your head, put the helmet on, and finally put the gloves on. 45 seconds. Eventually, we will add “put on your air pack and face mask” to the routine…..we’ll have to continue to build proficiency and speed! We watched a film of a firefighter donning everything – including air pack and face mask – in 47 seconds today! Incredible that he could do that, yet I’m sure we have firefighters in Saint Paul that could beat that! None, however, in today’s class ! :)
We finished the day with the Physical Training hour. More intense today….shoulders and arms were burning by the end of the session. We finished the hour at the top of the 6-floor drill tower, and I got a chance to talk to the recruits about the department and our partnerships with the Saint Paul Police and Minneapolis Fire. It was a good chance to bond, and a good chance to set the tone with them on mutual cooperation and good relations with those key partners. As we caught our breath and talked for a few minutes, a fire broke out on the East Side of Saint Paul. We watched the smoke column and listened to the radio calls from the firefighters on scene at that fire. All of us wanted to be there!
My training didn’t really “finish” for the day until after midnight. In the evening, I continued my physical training by running an additional 5 ½ miles, then finished the night with a 5 mile walk with my wife.
Tomorrow (Veteran’s Day) is a holiday, so there is no class for the Fire Academy. The holiday will give me some additional time with family, and provide a chance to catch up on the reading assignments for the academy. I’m sure that I’ll also be doing some extra physical training, and probably going into the Fire Chief’s office to catch up on work there as well.
Thanks for joining me “On Scene” at the Fire Academy, and I look forward to continuing the journey together!