Lee County paramedics are cross training to become certified firefighters.
The county wants to improve fire protection by increasing the number of firefighters, without raising taxes.
At the Albany Fire Department's training center Tuesday, 13 paramedics fought their first live fire inside a building. A big step in their training.
For the Lee County paramedics, cross training to be firefighters as well, today was their first experience going inside a room filled with fire. Paramedic Jessica Galvin admits she was expecting it to be much harder.
Galvin said "A lot more heat, a lot more smoke. I was not sure if I was going to be able to keep by self control. But it was not too bad." Pretty exciting? "It was. Definitely a different side of public safety."
Long time firefighters are helping train the paramedics become a part of their team, but going into a burning building is a big step.
Fire Chief James Howell said "They have had a few fires outside in the open air environment, but this is the first time actually experiencing the structure type fire. It's probably been a little eye opener for some of them."
But the paramedics say they are embracing the cross training now.
Galvin said "I had some hesitation at first. But I think it's going to be OK. I like to learn. I like learning new things, and do new things. So it's been pretty exciting to learn."
With more firefighters and paramedics on duty, Lee County hopes to improve their response time, to protect homeowners better and possibly lower their insurance rates.
Lee County Public Safety Director Bobby Watkins said "Absolutely. Yes, because this is only going to benefit all the homeowners. If we can lower ISO rating which will give them a better insurance rating. That will be money back in their pockets."
Galvin said "Also as a Lee County resident, I'm pretty excited hoping that it also helps with the ISO ratings, so with the taxes. So I am looking forward to that, and seeing how that effects it."
Cross training these first responders believe will help save lives in Lee County.
The paramedics hope to complete their training and take their state firefighter certification tests in the last of March or the first of April.