By Scott Prater | Mountaineer staff
FORT CARSON, Colo. — Fort Carson firefighters donned full safety gear and verified their skills and equipment during an evaluation exercise July 15, 2020, at Butts Army Airfield.
Hosted by Fort Carson Fire Department leaders, the relatively new firefighters examined and tested nearly every piece of equipment and gear they need to perform their duties. Then under the watchful eyes of department captains, assistant chiefs and senior firefighters, they extinguished test fires under controlled conditions near the airfield flight line.
“In the past six months, we’ve hired a number of brand-new firefighters, with either very little or no real experience, so we’re bringing them up to full performance,” said Josh Hosack, FCFD assistant chief (training). “The firefighters here are performing their Fire Fighter II certification skills evaluation. All of our firefighters are required to eventually obtain that certification, along with the Airport Firefighter certification, to maintain full performance in their position.”
Many of the tasks associated with earning certification involve inspecting and evaluating fire hoses, hydrants, chainsaws and other equipment firefighters depend on. But, candidates are also evaluated on actual tactical and strategic firefighting skills as well as incident command performance.
“Initially, when new firefighters come on board, they start in our four-weeklong academy,” Hosack said. “Following that, their training is supported by their company officers and fellow firefighters, who mentor them through a number of vital tasks.”
“They really get on-the-job training,” said Anna Timchenko, FCFD captain. “We need to get them to a level where they can act as a full functioning firefighter. So today, we’re testing for some very specific skillsets.”
Hosack explained that evaluators were looking for critical-failure points July 15, 2020, but that firefighters attempting to earn certification executed the required tasks with proficiency.
“We’ll evaluate them for the Airport Firefighter certification at a later date,” he said. “But, today, their performance was nearly flawless.”