Friday, July 21, 2006

GFD

g-firefighter 07-19-06
Copyright LJM 2006
GARY--They endured 20 weeks of pre-dawn jogging, classwork and
intensive training but it
all paid off Wednesday when 11 men were inducted as Gary's newest
firefighters.
"This is the first class of 2006. I hope each one invests 20 years.
These are wartime
recruits. They have to be very aware of their surroundings because
this is a high alert
area. We are the front line responders," Gary Fire Department Chief
Robert Walker said.
His thoughts were echoed within each recruit.
"I hope to have a great career and save many lives," Juan Gonzalez,
28 from East Chicago,
said.
Sultan Jaber said he joined because of the respect firefighters
receive in the community
and a chance to save lives. He also understood the sadness he may
encounter if they are too
late.
"Being a fireman is not an easy career," Gary Deputy Mayor Geraldine
Tousant, said.
Walker said the department is replacing the 21 retiring fire
personnel, so another class of
firefighters may soon be trained.
The men stood tall in their dress blues as they walked across the
stage at the Genesis Center to receive their badges.
"It helped me develop self esteem. It's the brotherhood and the love
you get from the
other firefighters. The training I received prepared me and so I will
lose any fears,
Jamier Ruffin, 23, of Gary said.
Mark Everette, GFD Chief of Training, said recruits are trained
beyond the state requirements.
"They are trained to firefighter II, the highest level of
certification. It's hard to keep
up with training outside of the structure of the academy so we train
them ahead of time so
that they may pursue other certifications. You can't get any other
certifications in the
state with out firefighter II training.
He said all training is done in house. They must pass an agility
test, lift a 60 pound extension ladder, run a mile in 10 minutes and
be tested for claustrophobia and vertigo.
"Training weeds them out. We started with 12," Everette said.
He also took the recruits for a run through the city's neighborhoods
ever morning at 5:45 a.m. He acknowledged their success in a speech.
"Some of you were out of shape. We ran through each community so they
could become familiar with the different regions of the city," he said.
Each recruit received 260 hours classroom training since Emergency
Medical Service is now the firefighter's primary response in Gary,
Everette said.
"This training can take them anywhere," he said.
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