On Saturday, Dec. 15, 36 volunteers for the Loudoun County Volunteer Fire Department took another step toward becoming firefighters. The event was Firefighter Family Day, and families of the volunteers were able to watch as the 36 participated in live exercises.
Capt. Jason Collins is pleased with the way this class has performed throughout the program, which involves more 200 hours of classroom and practical learning. "This is one of the top classes this system has seen," he said.
Families gathered at the new burn building, located just off Sycolin Road in Leesburg, to see exactly what their loved ones had been doing for the last few months. The volunteers went through a variety of exercises and situations, using the knowledge they have gained throughout the process. The fall 2007 class, who will graduate in January, represents the first class to be trained using the new practice facilities.
Lt. Robert Dickinson, a career firefighter as well as an instructor, believes that the educational process for firefighters in this county has gotten much better.
"This was a brand new education for everybody, to be able to work with the new buildings and new curriculum and I think we’ll see better firefighters because of it."
THE CLASS is a varied group, with nothing more in common than a desire to serve. Jes Harder is a high-school student from Sterling who was inspired to join by his neighbor, who is also in the Fire Department. "This was a great experience, it taught me a lot about the [public service] system, to see what these people go through," he said.
Derek Heese of Ashburn was looking for a way to volunteer in his community. "This was everything I was looking for: a chance to be hands on and give back to the community. It was an educational and intensive experience, with both physical and mental challenges," he said.