A look inside recruit training
Mike Christen, The Daily Herald, Columbia, Tenn.
Mar. 25—Training — few words are given greater importance at Columbia Fire & Rescue.
Dressed in a 45-plus pound uniform, fire cadets participated in training exercises, simulating entry into burning buildings and navigating deteriorating structures at their own peril in the field.
As the department continually keeps its firefighters and responders prepared with the latest rigorous training offered, the department’s first-time recruits spend much of their time at the state’s field training centers.
The recruits are required to undergo over 400 hours of training, culminating in an extensive training program at the Tennessee Fire Service & Codes Enforcement Academy in Bell Buckle.
All members of the local emergency department are expected to go above and beyond the state’s required minimum hours of training to uphold its high standards, Columbia Fire Chief Ty Cobb explained.
Cobb said the lessons learned during the 10-week program at the academy as part of the department’s own in-house training regimen ensures that the city’s firefighters have “all the skills necessary to rise to the occasion when duty calls.”
He said when the recruits complete their training, they will have been put through some of the the most challenging conditions, including training scenarios that test each candidate’s physical fitness and endurance under pressure.
“Not everyone makes it through, but we have a crew of very skilled recruits in training right now,” Cobb said. “You have to be in good shape and focused on your studies to pass. We are excited about our students. They are disciplined and are focused. When they return from completing their training, they will be ready to join a shift and begin protecting a community.”
For Columbia’s firefighters, training begins well before the academy as each member of the department receives basic training in emergency response, graduating from the Columbia State Community College’s EMT program.
The class of recruits are some of the first local firefighters to return to the state’s training center since the spread of the COVID-19 a year ago.
“They are as safe as can be,” Cobb said, explaining that the local department and the state’s training academy continue to take precautions to prevent any potential spread of the virus.
The department offers a cadet program where a person can get a part-time job with the department as long as they work toward EMT certification at a college and then attend a semester of fire science training at the Tennessee State Fire Academy.
After completing both semesters, the cadet will then be transferred to full-time employment with the department.
Columbia Fire & Rescue touts a storied legacy of providing protection to the people of Columbia and greater Maury County.
The local department maintains a a Class 1 rating from the National Insurance Services Office. When the department first received the top ratting. It was the fist fire department in Tennessee to earn the distinction.
The Class 1 rating ensures Columbia residents that their local firefighters offer the highest standard of service as well as a deduction on local insurance rates.
The service standard is also mentioned as an incentive for recruiting businesses to the region.
“These benefits are possible because of the many hours of hard work by our firefighters and city leaders,” Cobb said.
The local department has also taken major steps forward with its Community Risk Protection program.
The program empowers the public with knowledge and assets to reduce the potential of hazards that cause loss of life and property.
“The initiative is offered with the mission of allowing citizens to live in a city free from risks and hazards while they fulfill happy and productive lives. As we continue to grow, we look forward to serving our citizens with professional care and compassion,” Cobb said.
Initially launched as a volunteer service more than 150 years ago, the Columbia Fire & Rescue serves more than 38,000 residents in a 30-square mile area. Columbia firefighters respond to over 4,000 calls a year for all types of emergencies.
The service operates from six fire stations throughout the city with a fleet of three ladder trucks, three engine companies, one medical rescue unit, two rescue boats, and a swift water rescue boat.
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