Popular Citizen Fire Academy starts Sept. 1

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Fire Department officials are seeking civic-minded citizens with a burning interest in department functions and rescue tactics.

Gwinnett County Fire Department leaders announced Wednesday the 16th installment of the popular Citizen Fire Academy Class will begin Sept. 1 for qualified participants. Deadline for applying is Aug. 26.

The CFA is a 12-week program conducted by the Fire Department and hosted by the Citizen Fire Academy Alumni Association, which was credited with logging nearly 3,000 volunteer hours last year and saving the county thousands. Sessions, which run through Nov. 17, will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursdays at various fire service locations, said Fire Department spokesman Capt. Thomas Rutledge.

All classes are taught by certified fire and emergency services professionals.

"This is one of the most popular programs offered to citizens by the department," Rutledge said. "We've had tremendous success with the CFA program since it started in 2003."

The class allows participants to learn first-hand what it's like to be a firefighter/EMT, paramedic, on-scene incident commander and emergency dispatcher. Participants will respond to actual emergency calls with firefighters during a scheduled ride-along opportunity.

Topics will cover facets of the fire service industry from fire prevention to aerial ladder operations. Applicants must live or work within Gwinnett County and be at least 18 years old.

Rutledge called the academy a win-win for all involved.

"(It) allows fire personnel to interact with citizens and business professionals on a non-emergency basis," he said. "Firefighters are able to promote a safety message as well as the initiatives of the department."