Protecting and Serving

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Horns blaring and smoke pouring out windows was the dramatic fire scene earlier Saturday. This wasn't real, but for area trainees it was the closest situation to the real thing as they have so far seen.

The new firefighters say putting out the flames has raised their confidence like never before.

As she prepared to tackle raging flames and smoke, firefighter trainee Shannon Pease couldn't wait to tackle the challenge head on..

Pease says, "Just getting that call you get the adrenaline rush even though it’s just a drill you still the whole rush.”

Pease and 16 other volunteer fire trainees wrapped up 14 weeks of classroom training with the ultimate real life training: a live burn drill. Teamed with veteran firefighters, the young recruits entered a training tower and were forced to overcome hurdles and get the fire under control.

New Milford Fire Department Recruit Derrick Dawson tells 23 News, "There's so much going through your mind. You're worried about the heat and the smoke and the visibility and if there's life. You know you have a job to do and you have to get it done."

The trainees were divided into four teams each with different assignments. The drill also mixed eight different fire departments together, but all with the same game plan.

Dawson says, "It's really nice to get to work with other departments. We don’t get mutual aid calls all the time and getting to work with other people takes you out of your comfort zone.”

And as she completes her fire training, Pease feels good about what she and her fellow classmates accomplished in the midst of smoke and stress.

Pease recalls, "I feel a lot more confident in being in a live burn. You can walk away with confidence knowing that you can do anything.”

The area's fire departments will take on a whole new group of trainees in early February. Cherry Valley's Fire Department usually does the live burn events twice a year.