A group of Erie County rookie firefighters are competing their last few training classes before they pack up their gear and return to their respective fire companies ready to serve and protect their communities.
On Wednesday, 26 firefighters participated in "firefighter boot camp" where they entered burning buildings and put out real fires at the Erie County Emergency Services Training and Operations Center in Cheektowaga.
"They're learning all the basics of firefighting -- handling hose lines, working with ladders, tackling structural fires -- basic skills that are required for firefighting to ensure that we have adequately trained firefighters," said William Taylor, Fire Protection Specialist.
"It's just completely -- you can't see anything at all. Lower to the ground it's a lot better viability. That's why they teach you to crawl," said Christine Davenport, an Orchard Park Fire recruit.
Davenport is currently studying to be a Physicians Assistant and thought it would be a good idea to complete EMT training. She says the firefighting was a bonus.
"The fire stuff was just so cool that I really had to join," said Davenport. "I really like doing it with all my people in the fire company."
For Windom Fire Company recruit Jason Knavel, being a firefighter is a family affair.
"My grandfather was a chief at Windom. My father is chief right now. I guess i'm trying to follow in their footprints," Knavel said.
Taylor said they hold these training events to ensure the community have a strong force of firefighters to step up and help their neighbors in need.
"It's critical that we recruit new members, younger members," said Taylor. "Because when I stop doing it I want to make sure there's a group of people behind me that are going to follow up and keep this going."
"There's a lot of people preaching the brotherhood of man. Well, firefighters live the brotherhood of man every day. We go out the door and help our neighbors. Anybody can put a fire out, but very few people can be firefighters."