Letters From The Academy

Editor's Note: Richmond.com in Richmond, Virginia wanted to know what makes a firefighter, so they asked the Richmond Department of Fire and Emergency Services Class of 2004-1 to write about their training. They are following the 15 recruits week-by-week through their 18-week course. Additional recruits will be added weekly.

Series Reprinted Courtesy
Please Choose a Recruit's Story
roderickbrown_small.jpg Recruit Roderick S. Brown:
PT Weary
anthonywells_small.jpg Recruit Anthony L. Wells:
Stepping It Up A Notch
jalmarperry_small.jpg Recruit D'Jalmar A. Perry:
A Job Well Done
amybelvin_small.jpg Recruit Amy Belvin:
Juggling Training, Family Life
christopherarmstrong_small.jpg Recruit Christopher W. Armstrong:
Dreams Do Come True
robertwall_small.jpg Recruit Robert W. Wall: It's A Team Effort
jodymoore_small.jpg Recruit Jody T. Moore:
Hot, Dangerous And Dark
jamiepotter_small.jpg Recruit Jamie L. Potter:
Three Words - Hot, Smoky And Ouch
georgeshumpert_small.jpg Recruit George D. Shumpert:
One Recruit Gives Thanks

Inside the Academy

The Richmond Department of Fire and Emergency Services conducts its fire recruit training at its four-acre training facility located in Sandston, Virginia. The training academy has provided an environment conducive to learning and producing highly qualified professionals since 1958. In 1988, the facility was renovated to its present form, which includes classrooms, offices, burn building, search and rescue maze, seven-story tower, observation tower, and a fire engine.

On Feb. 9, 2004, the Class of 2004-1 began their training. This class will consist of 15 recruits of varied backgrounds and levels of experience. The Fire Academy Recruit School is an 18-week program and will yield certifications in Firefighter I, Firefighter II, Emergency Vehicle Operators Course, and Hazardous Materials Operations. They will also be trained as Emergency Medical Technicians. Those with experience are encouraged to assist those without, but all are trained to meet or exceed the standards of the City of Richmond and the Department of Fire and Emergency Services.

Each day begins with a flag ceremony, which instills honor and respect to those we serve and protect, followed by physical training. Our physical training program consists of calisthenics, stretching, running, climbing our seven-story tower, and an array of practical exercises that incorporate the tools of our trade and skills associated with firefighting. In two week of training, there has been noticeable improvement among many of the recruits in terms of their fitness.

The first five weeks are dedicated to the Emergency Medical Technicians course. Each firefighter hired after 1988 must maintain this Basic Life Support certification to retain employment. On March 15, we begin our fire portion of the academy. All aspects of fire training will be covered, including instruction in our fire department structure and incident management system, fire behavior, vehicle extrication, ladders, Pump Class, Aerial Class, and much more. On the week of April 19th, we turn up the heat with "Burn Week." This is a week of intensive training in our burn building, which features live burns, fire extinguishing techniques, and search and rescue evolutions. The highlight of this week is our "Night Burn," when recruits perform fire fighting, rappelling, and climbing evolutions in the presence of their friends and families.

Graduation day will be greatly anticipated. Feelings of accomplishment and perseverance will abound. These young fire recruits will cherish the lessons learned and the bonds created. They will never forget their time spent at the Richmond Fire Training Academy.

Lt. Kent O. Taylor is the training coordinator at the Richmond Fire Training Academy.