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Dozens of West Tennesseans Training to Become Firefighters

By Natalie Potts
By npotts@wbbjtv.com

MADISON COUNTY, Tenn. - Dozens of would be firefighters from across West Tennessee trained together in their first dose of boot camp, Saturday.

Madison County Fire Chief Eric Turner told WBBJ 7 Eyewitness News that more than 25 firefighters from Madison, Haywood, Lauderdale, Gibson, Crockett, Obion, Dyer and Carroll counties gathered in the Madison County fire training center for intense training.

"You depend on these people to keep you safe, it's the first chance they get to actually put water on live fire," said Chief Turner. "Sometimes we find out what they are really made of and if they really want to do this, today is a good day to decide that."

The course comes after each firefighter has had at least 64 hours of classroom training. Firefighters in training said the academy is where they can get hands on experience, learn to overcome their fears and trust their partners.

"It is a workout if you're not in shape. It will make you want to get in shape extremely quick because it's rough," said firefighter Jacob Alexander. "After you form that brotherhood with the family, you can trust everybody so you can trust if you fall, somebody will be there to catch you, so that's my fear is falling."

Chief Turner said the instructors make sure their training in their drills is challenging, so that firefighters are prepared when it comes to a real life emergency. Some firefighters said they have been through the training more than once.

"It was so grueling that I did not properly hydrate last time, I did not drink enough fluids that I passed out," said firefighter Kay Long. "The equipment we wear is about 70 pounds and you have to really know how to carry it, it's a lot."

Officials said in this stage of training, firefighters are learning the basics such as how to attack a live fire, get water supply, and extinguish grass fires.

"You will get out of your comfort zone, it's takes more than learning. It's all mind over matter," said Alexander.

Chief Turner said having the opportunity to partner with neighboring counties in their training is helpful in the cases where a department needs to assist another in fighting a fire.

"It gives us a chance to work together because in a mutual aid situation, it's very possible that Gibson County , Madison County or other surrounding counties have to work together. It's just a good opportunity to train together and to prepare for when they do have to work together."

Fire officials said over the years they have seen a growing interest in all of their departments.
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