Last night I had the privilege to spend the evening with Matt at the Fire Academy for what they call Family Night. This is a night where the recruits invite their spouses, parents, kids etc. to come see where they learn, who teaches them, what they spend their time doing and why they come home so dirty and tired. It was also a night, as Fire Chief Cochran explained, where by coming to see everything and meet everyone that the family of the recruits realize even more how important their support for their loved ones is as they go through the Academy and of course beyond when they are out in the field.
So Matt drove all the way home from ATL to come meet me and pick me up for our date night to the Fire Academy.
When we arrived he informed me that he needed to go through the side or back door because he isn’t yet allowed to walk through the front door. They can only enter through the front door once they are officially Firefighters and right now they are MAGGOTS (which sounds bad but apparently it’s good because they were ROACHES-Reaching Out And Changing History-before Burn Week this past week). I made him stand in front of the front door for a picture though.
So we went inside and he introduced me to his fellow recruits, many I had heard about from Matt’s nightly stories and they all seemed like good guys. The Fire Chief spoke for a few minutes about how important support is for the recruits and how family night was one of his favorite parts of the Academy along with a class he teaches at the end of the academy and of course graduation day. He had the recruits recite the Atlanta Fire Rescue mission statement and vision which they did without missing a beat. His speech made me very proud of my husband and excited for what is ahead.
After he spoke, Chief Shinkle spoke and introduced the Instructors and then we ate dinner followed by the tour of the academy.
First he showed me the red maze which they did the second day of fire training. This is the one they crawl through in full gear in darkness while the instructors are screaming and banging on the sides.
That room also had the attic simulator in it that they crawl through while they bang on a piano.
There was turnout gear, boots and mannequins all over the place.
Then we went outside where they had Engine 30.
He showed me all the different hoses and nozzles that they have been learning to use.
And here is my favorite photo of the night….
Then we drove to the drill yard which is where they spend most of their time. Here is the tower where they run high rises up and down the stairs.
Inside the rooms of the tower are where they do search and rescue drills to find victims. Here you see the baby that has been rescued multiple times.
There is another maze on the top floor of the tower.
This is on the very top of the tower where he was showing me how they retrieve tools from below. Little did he know he was scaring me to death standing like that…
The view down…
Here is the Flashover Simulator that they did last week where they lay in the bottom box and a fire is started in the upper box that spreads and goes over their heads. They said once was enough of that.
Last, we went inside the burn building where they did the search and rescue drills with the smoke during BA Week. There was furniture and mannequins in the rooms and the floor was covered in hay and water. Pretty interesting to see. Matt said it was weird walking through there because normally he crawls through it.
It was a fun night and when we got home he found out that he did indeed pass the Firefighter I test so now we are just waiting on the Firefighter II results and looking forward to June 5th, graduation day!