Inside Firefighter Training

It doesn't change when it comes to survival. Police officers have their guns and firefighters have their air tanks.

It is s one of the biggest tests in becoming a firefighter. “This is their first interior live fire attack they will look back on for the rest of their career,” says Capt. Dan Miller of the Omaha Fire Training Bureau.

Forty-seven recruits get their first taste of real heat, flames and smoke. For some, it's a deal breaker. “I haven't seen anyone here having any question in their mind about their willingness to be here and do this,” says Capt. Miller.

They're in their sixth of 16 weeks at the Omaha Training Academy at 114th Street and Rainwood Road in Douglas County. Safety is key during training. Paramedics are on hand just in case something goes wrong. The men and woman are also learning their own limits.

An alarm goes off if a firefighter doesn't move for 30 seconds. Others would know he or she needs help.

“It used to be we'd get a lot more without a college degree,” says Capt. Miller. In this class, one-third have a bachelor's degree or more and the average age is 29.

“There's a rich tradition in the fire service of it being a family career." The next generation of firefighters includes two former Husker football players, Fred Pollack and Mike Ericson. There are three women in this class and everyone is reminded of those who came before by wearing the gear of those who have retired.

There are 10 more weeks of this before they are officially Omaha firefighters. To give a little perspective, 10 years ago trainers say most of the recruits didn't even have a two-year degree, let alone a bachelor's degree.

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