Val-Tech trains firefighters - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Val-Tech trains firefighters

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November 16, 2004

Valdosta - It's a race against the clock to get suited up and onto the scene of a fire. "We have to put on a coat, bunker coat and pants, helmet, hood, gloves, and also a NCBA breathing apparatus," said Benjamin Tillman, Fire Science Instructor.

These firefighters only have two minutes to pass the test. "Anytime in the city, you want a response of three minutes or less, and if you can quick dress in less than two minutes, that gives you basically 1 minute to get to any location in the community," said Tillman.

It's just one of the tasks these students must complete to become the first graduates of Valdosta Technical College's new Fire Science program. "You learn the basic essentials of firefighting, quick dressing, advancing fire hoses, ventilation, forcible entry techniques," said Tillman.

Over a course of six months, modern day students are transformed into highly skilled firefighters. "They can tell you how to do it over and over again but when you get there and actually do it, its a lot different," said Blake Whitehead, Student.

Students can receive their technical certification in fire science in six months, or they can complete the advanced diploma program in a year and a half.

Before technical schools started programs like this one, students had to travel to the Georgia Public Safety Training Center in Forsyth for firefighter certification. "I'm with a volunteer fire department, and we don't have a big budget, but by the HOPE scholarship letting us do this for free, it gives even us volunteers a chance to get the training and practice we need," said Sizemore.

Practice that could make the difference next time you or your home are in danger.

posted at 4:55 P.M. by ashley.harper@walb.com