Nine New Orleans' firefighter recruits are completing their training, interrupted by hurricane Katrina, with the Shreveport Fire Department.
The New Orleans recruits were six weeks into their training when the deadly hurricane hit the Crescent City, submerging and partially destroying their fire training center. The recruits, not yet able to perform firefighter duties, could not be assigned to emergency operations to assist the fire department in the aftermath of the storm, so they were told to stay with their families until a decision could be made about their future.
Following the hurricane, Shreveport Fire Department administrative chiefs in New Orleans learned about the displaced recruits and calculated that the NOFD class was in about the same place in their current firefighter basic training class in Shreveport. After several days of phone calls between fire and city official, as well as FEMA representatives, and some last minute paperwork, Shreveport Mayor Keith Hightower and Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran extended the invitation to New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and Fire Superintendent Charles Parent to allow the NOFD recruits to come to Shreveport and finish out their training with the SDF class.
Logistically, many challenges were overcome to get the recruits to Shreveport on September 16, including re-opening the old Central Fire Station on the corner of Common Street and Crockett to house the firefighters. Most of the NOFD recruits only came with the clothes on their backs and were completely outfitted with uniforms when they arrived. Food at the station was provided by Shreveport Firefighter Local #514 and additional clothing by other support agencies.
On November 17, New Orleans firefighter recruits Peter Everett, George Guidry, Jared Harrell, Marc Inoa, Paul King, Kenneth Matthews, Autumn Nurton, John Von Hoven, and David Watkins will graduate with the Shreveport Fire Department 49th Basic Training Class at Shreveport's Municipal Auditorium and later return to assist New Orleans in her recovery as fully-certified firefighters.