Dressed in bunker gear, six paramedics dedicated to serving their community began the two-month process of becoming a firefighter.
On the second day of the Arvada Fire Protection District’s fire academy, the recruits began to learn about a few different aspects of life as a firefighter: safety, gear, breathing. Inside the classroom, students learned about the various pieces of equipment they’ll soon carry, including their SCBA (self-contained breathing apparatus), and how each item functions.
”There’s a ton of safety mechanisms included in the SCBA and they’re there to notify other firefighters when they need to assist you,” said Michelle Cherniske, Arvada Fire community risk reduction specialist.
Trainer Dan Roozen reviewed the various signals, knobs and gauges on the SCBA, discussed how each piece works together, and showed how the apparatus provides free-flowing air should something break.
”The bottom line is, it’s (the SCBA) going to work for you, use it — trust it,” he said.
The group then put its knowledge to the test, practicing various drills repeatedly, ensuring speed and efficacy to complete each task.
”Work through it, nice and easy,” firefighter Jesse Cardenas said as he helped two recruits connect their SCBAs to one another. ”You’re fine. Now we’re going to turn your air off and try it again.”
At the end of class, the recruits practiced putting on their gear in under one minute, a common drill and requirement by the state. Each individual prepped their area, laying out their gear — jacket, pants, boots, gloves, hood, helmet and visor — in front of them.
Each recruit encouraged and helped each other, not only by putting on their gear, but also by taking note of what others may have missed and gently reminding them of the next step — something they may need to do in an emergency situation.
As each finished the goal — one in 55 seconds, another in 58 seconds and the rest by 80 seconds — they clapped, congratulating each other on a job well done.
And in that minute, the new recruits received a glimpse of what their future, and responding to an emergency, would be like.