Firefighter Training: How They Take the Heat

JUNE 28, 2006 -- POSTED AT 10:30 P.M. CDT

JONESBORO, AR -- The Jonesboro Fire Department has started day one of a two day training session at Twin Towers Dormitory on the campus of Arkansas State. It's hot outside and even hotter under all that gear, but this isn't the real thing, they're in training to be ready for the flames, whenever they come.

"It's a stressful job when you're working in heat like that. A lot of times there's zero visibility, it's very stressful," says Marty Hamrick and Ty Damron, two Jonesboro Firefighters.

They perform several run throughs, searching for orange traffic cones that represent people. They have to check all rooms along the hallway and do it in a certain amount of time.

This training session isn't the end of it. They practice year round, in the classroom and in the field. They say one of the most important lessons they've learned is that it's not a one man job.

"I know what he's doing. He's knows what I'm doing. If we get separated our partner is going to be the first one to know it and be able to find us or get us help, so it's essential," says Hamrick.

It's a job with an extreme amount of stress, we had to ask, why this job and why the risk?

"It's the best job in the world. There's nothing else like it. It's hard to explain, you'd just have to do it," says Hamrick.

"It makes your heart start pumping. You can actually see. It's one of the jobs where when you go in and it's real bad and by the time we come out, it's usually a better situation. It makes you feel good to be able to help folks like that," says Hamrick.

Helping people put aside, what about the thrill?

"It's definitely a thrill, but also your compassion begins to take over and a lot of the people we deal with are under some kind of stress and they're looking for us for help," says Damron.

"There's a tiny bit of the adrenaline factor that you like, but you get over that and it's usually all about helping people. I mean you're either born to do this job or your not," says Damron.

Thursday will start Day 2 of the training. They'll perform an aerial rescue from 7 stories up and they'll be using something a little heavier than traffic cones, 165 pound dummies.

Join us Thursday on Nightbeat for part two of this series about firefighters training.