The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Firefighter applicants train at NW Campus facility

By Cale Vaughan/reporter

Crackling shots from TCC’s police training facility were heard in the background as firefighter applicants honed their agility skills on NW Campus.

Applicants tested their dexterity skills and strength Nov. 1 at the Fire Service Training Center.

James Craft, assistant coordinator of the center, said the NW Campus location is contracted to 15 fire departments for training.

“We provide a service to fire departments, as far as manpower, to help get the best qualified applicants to their city,” he said.

DFW Airport fire captain Christopher Gay said each city’s fire department has standards on physical fitness. Gay said the agility test must be completed within a certain number of minutes.

“Once they have passed the test, they have six months to use their certification (for a job),” he said.

Applicants wore the top half of the traditional firefighting suit: helmet, air tank and breathing apparatus.

Gay said the first test required applicants to wear a blacked-out mask to simulate a smoke-filled room.

Applicants crawled on the floor alongside a fire hose designated to help them through the maze. They gripped the fire hose to feel for physical features to tell them where to go.

“The hose tells you two things — where the fire is and where the exit is,” he said.

Applicants climbed a 75-foot ladder at a 70-degree angle for the second test, Gay said.

Applicant Robert Butler prepared for the agility test by cycling and running races.

Butler said he works as an emergency room technician at Dallas’ Parkland Hospital and hopes to get a job with a department in a bigger city.

“It’s tough when thousands apply for three jobs,” he said.

After completing the test, applicant Traci Brown said she trained by “running stairs, dragged tires and ran sprints.”

The third test consisted of five separate stages with only four minutes to finish, Gay said.

Applicants carried a water-filled fire hose 200 feet for the first part of the test.

Butler hustled his way through the hose drag with ease and moved on to step two, which was to carry a 35-pound vent fan a distance of 150 feet.

Gay said Butler was “truckin’ it” as he finished and cruised on to the next part — the Keiser sled.

Butler picked up a heavy sledgehammer and began swinging the hammer between his legs, hitting the sled as he stood above to move it five feet.

“This simulates cutting ventilation holes,” Gay said.

Butler had a short walk to where instructors told him to pick up a 125-pound dummy and carry it 50 feet.

Then Butler, breathing heavily, walked to the foot of a ladder hanging up on the side of a building for the final stage.

Butler grabbed a rope and pulled the ladder up 24 feet and then let it back down.

He finished in 2 minutes and 48 seconds.

Gay said firefighters’ gloves cause them to lose roughly 50 percent of their hand strength.

“We’re testing leg strength, hand strength, balance, grip and upper body,” Gay said. “About 50 to 75 percent pass the test. The two applicants earlier this morning did not.”

 

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