Story and photos by Amber Martin | Garrison Public Affairs Office
FORT CARSON, Colo. — Carrying 30-pound hoses up and down a barracks stairwell while wearing 80 pounds of gear and equipment to practice high-rise drills was just a small portion of the training conducted by new Fort Carson firefighters.
The Fort Carson Fire Academy qualified 10 new firefighter candidates during its four-week training course that began Jan. 6, 2020, at the academy’s training center on Fort Carson, Colorado.
The Fort Carson Fire Department is bolstering its ranks by adding approximately 20 new well-trained candidates by March to fill positions across its five fire stations at Fort Carson and the Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site.
“The significance of this is setting the foundation for this fire department for years to come,” said Chief Josh Hosack, assistant chief of training, FCFD, Directorate of Emergency Services. “We are bringing people on from different experience levels and different departments … it’s really important to bring them on and give them a really good introduction as to what Fort Carson (Fire Department) does.”
The four-week training course starts with basic firefighting skills including how to put on firefighting equipment — like the self-contained breathing apparatus mask and pack — laying out hoses, training to rescue downed firefighters, firefighting in high-rise structures, truck company functions, aircraft firefighting, auto extrication, and wildland firefighting.
The goal of the training is to have all candidates proficient in the 15 job performance requirements that all Fort Carson firefighters are expected to complete annually. Training the candidates prior to them getting to their stations allows them to be an asset as soon as they arrive.
“When we bring everyone together, and we all go through and do it in the same way, you get consistency and build up that culture to have proficient firefighters,” said Captain Tom Devlin, training supervisor, Fort Carson Fire Department, DES.
By the time the department hires and trains all of its personnel, it will have approximately 117 total employees. Almost 75 percent of employees are prior military service members according to Hosack.
Ryan Gates, candidate, Fort Carson Fire Academy, and a former U.S. Marine Corps firefighter, has been a firefighter for six years. He said he served in the Marines and continues to serve as a firefighter because he wants to be part of something bigger than himself. He has been with the Fort Carson Fire Department since November.
Gates’ time as a firefighter with the Marine Corps offered him experiences with firefighting at an airfield. He is looking forward to becoming a well-rounded firefighter with the Fort Carson Fire Department.
“The instructors out here, they give you tools for your toolbox, like what works best for you,” said Gates. “They show you multiple ways to do different things, that way you’re not stuck to one thing, and you can find out what works best for you and go from there.”
The Fort Carson Fire Department responds to the most calls in the Pikes Peak region after the Colorado Springs Fire Department said Hosack. The five Fort Carson fire stations take approximately 3,000 calls a year. Each fire station has different areas of responsibility with diverse concerns including wildland fires, airfield fires, training area fires, structural fires, emergencies and more.
Candidate Harrison McCord is a former Fountain Fire Department firefighter. He heard about the Fort Carson Fire Department while earning an associate degree in fire science from Pikes Peak Community College.
“I want to be a Fort Carson firefighter because I’ve heard so many good things about them — how much training they’ve done and how much they put into their people. I want to be a part of that, a part of a community that puts more into their people,” said McCord.
After the completion of the training Jan. 31, candidates will be sworn in as Fort Carson firefighters.
“You can see the confidence they gain in their skills throughout the academy,” said Devlin. “I have seen it with the PT (physical training), from day one to now … the confidence they have, the energy they have, and the camaraderie is great to see.”