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Rio Hondo Fire Academy: Firefighters of the Future

By Giovanni Galvez

WHITTER, CA - Firefighting training is no joke. Rio Hondo Fire Academy has an intense 16-week final program that prepares future firefighters for any dangerous real-world scenarios.

They must pass a written and physical exam before working at a fire station.

Photo Credit: Giovanni Galvez, Firefighters in training.

There's a strict form for pulling out water hoses from a fire truck engine. Practice exercises ensure public safety. Officials said students must master each exercise to graduate.

“It's very important because you know they are going into a dangerous situation, make sure they are safe and come back home to their family," said Senior Drillmaster Felix Valle. "That's our number one priority here at the academy.”

Students have excessive ladder training where one must quickly and safely carry a ladder. They also learn the setup, the climb with or without tools, and how to efficiently carry a person down a ladder.

After checking a stable roof path, they'll move to fire-related exercises. It includes proper evacuation from a burning building.

“We all came together, the captain is on top of us for every little thing to make sure we are doing everything correctly," said fire academy student Brandon Acosta. "I believe that they are preparing us to be one of the best firefighters out there, once we get into the field.”

Safety and discipline start from the bottom. Firefighters must be physically and mentally fit to handle the unpredictable circumstances of fire rescues. Some students said it's about preparing.

“If we have to throw that ladder up to the fourth story to rescue people out of that window we gotta be mentally and we gotta be physically prepared to perform that job," said fire academy student Jeremy Smith. "We can't say we are too tired.”

All students start with a physical exercise class. It includes running miles, jumping jacks, planks, burpees, and other drills. It ensures their peak performance in ladder training.

The academy is only the beginning of a long career with strict discipline. Firefighters are trained to be ready for any fire rescue.

Giovanni Galvez video report

Giovanni Galvez audio report

By: Giovanni Galvez


Photo: Giovanni Galvez

Video: Giovanni Galvez

Audio: Giovanni Galvez


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