Firing em up at LIT
LIT fire cadets fight industrial blazes as part of their training to become Southeast Texas firefighters.
Dressed in bunker gear and ready for action, cadets from Lamar Institute of Technology’s fire academy waited for the sky to turn dark. With family and friends watching, they put on their helmets and prepared to battle a blaze at the Beaumont Emergency Services Training complex – one of the final steps in their firefighting training at LIT.
The students, assisted by the Lumberton Volunteer Fire Department, prepared to fight fires that replicated blazes they might see in an industrial setting, said Will Lyons, chair of LIT’s Department of Public Service and Safety.
The scenario began, with the fire ablaze. The cadets lined up like soldiers, holding tightly to their fire hoses as they walked toward the fire, which lit up the night sky Jan. 2.
Fire trucks from the Port Arthur and Beaumont fire departments and firefighters from those cities stood by, ready to assist, Lyons said.
Tiffany Hernandez of the Lumberton Volunteer Fire Department said she enjoys experiencing the live fire training. “No two fires are ever the same and things never happen (at a blaze) like you think they will,” Hernandez said. She is studying forensic chemistry at Lamar University, but eventually plans to attend LIT’s fire academy.
Firefighting takes stamina and endurance. Fire cadet Payton Smith of Vidor said the recent training at the fire grounds said he got a good cardio workout fighting fires for about eight hours in the same day. In addition, keeping a hose steady while fighting a fire gives
“You can’t imagine how heavy a fire hose when you’re going down stairs. It was difficult, but fun,” Smith said. The 2007 Vidor High School graduate said the night training gave students an opportunity to show family and friends their firefighting skills.
“The night fires were a blast,” said cadet Robert Green of Groves. Cadets were armed with skills they had learned from good instructors, he said.
Cadets learned very quickly the amount of endurance it took to fight the blaze with a fire hose disbursing water. For many, it is a natural instinct to walk or run away from a fire, but firefighters learn to do the opposite. During the simulations, visitors could feel the heat from yards away. The cadets, dressed in fire-proof gear, attacked the fire head on – ignoring the intense heat.
Green, who currently works at the Jefferson County Airport, said he decided to pursue firefighting because he wanted to have a job he was proud of. “I feel that way about firefighting,” the 1993 Port
Scott Young, a member of the Beaumont Fire Department, was among those assisting cadets while they participated in the scenarios.
“It was a good simulation. They did an excellent job,” he said about the cadets. “I like to see new faces (joining the ranks). As I get older, we need new cadets to step in.”
Chauncey Naylor of Mauriceville said while he and the other academy cadets practiced working the scenarios all day, he really enjoyed having the chance to participate in the night fire training. This training offered cadets a different perspective, he said. Fighting a wood fire or a house fire is different, the 2008 Little Cypress-Mauriceville graduate said. The industrial fire training offered a different set of conditions and challenges for cadets.
For information about joining the fire academy, call Lyons at 839-2968.