The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

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July 24, 2013

UPDATE: Athens fire department seeks certified firefighters

(Continued)

"They are pouring all this medical information into you and it can be extremely hard to absorb all of that,” Kirk said.

The fire college offers a five-week, fast-track EMT course as well as a semester-long EMT course.

What a chief wants

In hiring a firefighter, the chief said he looks for someone who is extremely honest (because he or she will be working inside homes and businesses where valuables are unsecured; hardworking; and free of any felony convictions. (Arrests without conviction and traffic tickets do not count.)

Satisfaction

Although firefighting is dangerous, the chief said, law-enforcement officers face the daily threat of being shot, a danger not typically experienced by firefighters. The benefits of being a firefighter are many.

“The main thing is the satisfaction you get from being able to help someone,” said Kirk, who has been a firefighter for 27 years. “If someone calls the fire department, they are in trouble — whether it is a wreck or a fire or something else — and they are glad to see you.”

Firefighters and police officers have a running joke, he said, about how the public is happy to see firefighters but less delighted to see police officers because they associate them with tickets, fines and jail.

“The work is extremely gratifying and you get to be around a lot of good people,” the chief said. “Most people in the fire service are here to try to help other people.”

For more information on what it required to be a certified firefighter, go online to http://www.alabamafirecollege.net.

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