The Fire Department is seeking firefighter candidates. Those interested should apply by Oct. 1.

Photo by Jerry Raehal

The Fire Department is seeking firefighter candidates. Those interested should apply by Oct. 1.

Can you stand the heat?

Fire Department seeking firefighter candidates

photo

The Fire Department is seeking firefighter candidates. Those interested should apply by Oct. 1.

For more info

What: Becoming a firefighter candidate

When: Oct. 1 deadline to apply

Where: Craig Fire/Rescue Station, 419 Yampa Ave.

Contact: Captain Dennis Jones, 629-5405

Training: Begins January 2008

— Alvaro Landa thought for years about becoming a firefighter, but he held back because he thought it was a "good-old boys club" that wouldn't accept him.

"It wasn't like that at all," Landa said. "I was very welcomed by everyone. I wish I would have joined sooner."

Joining last fall and beginning formal training the first of the new year, Landa committed to helping the community by giving up a great deal of his free time for training.

Out of five probationary firefighters beginning the Craig Fire/Rescue probationary firefighter program in 2007, four are still with the department, and they will test for their Firefighter One Certification on Saturday.

"We did really well," Captain Dennis Jones said about the rookie retention rate. "We only lost one, and that was because she moved out of town."

Although the next round of training firefighter recruits officially begins Jan. 1, those interested in joining the next rookie class of firefighters need to contact the Fire Department before the Oct. 1.

"It's a long process," Jones said. "There are several interviews, physicals and a drug test. We conduct background checks and ensure they have no outstanding convictions."

The main thing for applicants to consider, both Jones and Landa said, is the time commitment involved in the first year of training.

Probationary firefighters and their spouses must prepare for a year dedicated to the Fire Department, with weekends filled with training and studying for tests.

"We've had shift workers take vacation days so they had time for the training," Jones said. "The (veteran) firefighters also give up a lot of their time to train the rookies. It's a big effort on everyone's part in the first year."

Applicants with families may sacrifice some time spent together during probationary training, Jones said, but the Fire Department also is a good environment to raise children. Some of the older firefighters have children who grew up around the station and have gone on to become cadets, eventually pursuing careers in firefighting.

On Saturday, Landa, along with Ryan Hampton, Charlie Gottschall and Heather Hampton will be testing for Firefighter I Certifications in hopes of becoming firefighters with Craig Fire/Rescue.

Landa said everyone at the department has been very helpful during his rookie year, and he appreciates the time they have invested helping him learn the job.

"It's very exciting work," he said. "I encourage anyone who is interested to apply, or at least talk to a firefighter and find out what it's all about."

Jones said he would be happy to talk with anyone interested in becoming a firefighter.

He can be reached at 629-5405.

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