NORMAN — For the past few months, 20 men have been training to become Norman firefighters, and learning how to put out fires is only one of many things they train to do.
Training for the recruits began Sept. 12, and the group will graduate March 13.
Over the six-month course, they learn about vehicle extrication, or using the jaws of life to cut people out of cars, how to handle swift water situations; how to rescue people from up high, down low, confined spaces and open spaces; how to respond to medical calls and more.
“Firefighters don’t just fight fires,” Norman Deputy Fire Chief Jim Bailey said.
The recruits are prepared to start working as soon as Day One after training, said Keith Nelson, assistant chief of training.
“They’re ready to go when they graduate,” he said.
But before they even get a chance to train, they have to go through a long process to be accepted first.
Nelson said applicants must have 30 hours of college credit, have their Emergency Medical Training basics, go through the application process and take written and physical agility tests.
Nelson said the written and agility tests usually weed out a lot of the applicants.
After all of that comes the interview portion. The first round of interviews is with the Frontline Captain Interview Board, which makes recommendations from the remaining group of applicants. Then those individuals are interviewed by the Chief’s Interview Board.
“You have to jump through a lot of hoops to get this job,” Nelson said.
However, this year’s group is the biggest Norman has ever had he said. They can train as few as six people at a time, and before this year, the most they had trained was around 15.
Feedback from recruits: “The most challenging thing (about training) is that there’s a lot to learn, there’s a lot of info,” firefighter recruit Grant McDanel said. “It’s not just spraying water on a fire, but I enjoy the challenge.”