Put to the Test: Firefighter Hopefuls See If They Have What It Takes




Put to the Test: Firefighter Hopefuls See If They Have What It Takes
By: Wendy Ray

(Cape Girardeau, MO)--It takes a lot to fight a fire. It's more than the equipment and uniforms that make a firefighter, they have to be fit. Men and women wanting to take on the task, were put to the test Friday. Firefighter candidates went through physical agility tests. It didn't take them long to find out it takes a lot of work to become a firefighter.

Training officer Fred Vincel says, "It's such a physically demanding job. Many times our firefighters go zero to 100 in seconds." It took just seconds for firefighter candidates hearts to start racing as their endurance was tested at six stations. The tests start off with hitting a block of wood. Doing that gives them a sense of what it would feel like to chop a hole through a roof. After their arms are tired and weak, candidates take a ladder down from a fire truck. Then, drag a fire hose 200 feet, the nozzle itself weighs 25 pounds. Raising and extending a 24 foot extension ladder is next, then it's carrying a pack, as heavy as a hose and nozzle would be, up three flights of stairs. Just when they're as legs and arms feel like they're going to give, candidates have to drag a 150 pound mannequin 120 feet. All of that has to be done in seven minutes.

A self contained breathing apparatus, or air pack, makes it even harder to get through the drill. Firefighters have to wear one every time they go out to a fire. That pack alone weighs close to 50 pounds. "When they answer a call, we're on the scene in a matter of moments," Vincel says. "They have heavy gear on and they're dealing with heavy appliances used in firefighting." Rick Moyers was put to the test. "It was hard," he says. "I have some friends who are in firefighting who said it was going to be hard and it was." He's hoping his success in the agility tests will make him one step closer to his dream of becoming a firefighter. "Now that I've been through it, it's hard. I'm ready to go home and relax the rest of the day," he says.

Not everyone passed the test Friday. But, the fortunate ones who made it will be interviewed Saturday, in the next step of becoming a firefighter.