Newest OFD recruit class kicks off new era of training

Published: Oct. 19, 2020 at 11:56 AM CDT|Updated: Oct. 19, 2020 at 4:55 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Omaha Fire Chief Dan Olsen and Mayor Jean Stothert welcomed the newest fire recruit class Monday morning inside the Omaha Public Safety Training Center.

The fire department says 31 people are part of this class which now begins the 12-week training academy. This is the class that was supposed to start in March, but the Coronavirus pandemic delayed it until now.

At a morning ceremony, Olsen and Stothert talked about the responsibility that comes with the job.

“You all now have the opportunity to save lives and to change lives,” said Mayor Stothert.

That, perhaps, rings more true this year as the world fights through a global pandemic and first responders find themselves on the front lines.

“They’re often the first to be in contact with patients, they transport them every single day,” said Stothert.

Battalion Chief Coby Werner says COVID-19 has made things tough on the fire department. He says during the 12-week academy, the recruit class will follow CDC and internal guidelines to keep everyone safe.

“We’re wearing masks 24/7, every single minute they’re in this training facility they’re wearing a mask, we’re social distancing, there’s hand sanitizer and a strict cleaning policy at the end of every day,” said Werner.

The recruits will also be medically screened before they start each day’s firefighting, hazmat, and emergency medical services training in the academy.

This class will graduate early next year.

Aside from the COVID-19 changes, the fire department also said this is the most diverse class they’ve ever seen. Just under 50% are minorities and/or women.

Battalion Chief Werner says that’s encouraging news, and noted that it’s important for the fire department to reflect the diversity of the city and its residents.

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