Have you ever wondered why a fire truck shows up when you call for an ambulance or how much a fire truck or ambulance costs? Would you like to climb a 100-foot aerial ladder? Do you think it would be exciting to handle the Jaws of Life while cutting apart a crashed vehicle? Feel the pressure of a charged fire hose as you fight a fire? Conduct a search and rescue effort in full firefighter gear? Tether yourself to the side of a building as you rappel three stories to the ground? Ride out with McKinney Fire Department on real emergency calls?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, the McKinney Citizens Fire Academy (CFA) is your opportunity. This program is offered each spring to residents of McKinney and to individuals who work in McKinney. The 2013 class, scheduled to begin on March 21, meets for 10 Thursday evenings from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at fire stations throughout McKinney. In addition to Thursday evening classes, there are two Saturday classes lasting from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Among the procedures you will learn include the 911 system, fire safety training for the home and workplace, CPR Training and more.
According to Stacie Durham, Public Information Officer for the McKinney Fire Department, the CFA is one of the most popular and successful education programs offered by the Fire Department. “Most citizens are unaware of the range of services offered by their local fire department. Gone are the days of sitting around the fire station waiting for the bell to ring. These men and women are highly skilled and trained professionals. They are ready at a moment’s notice to respond to any variety of emergency and are an invaluable resource in educating citizens of all ages on ways to avoid fires, burns and all other types of injury and/or emergency.”
Classes are scheduled to be held at several fire stations. “We usually visit as many stations as possible,” Durham said. “Generally we hold classes at six of the eight fire stations as well as the Public Safety Building and the CCCCD Fire Academy/Drill Field. The other McKinney fire stations lack adequate meeting rooms and/or public parking.”
2013 marks the 17 th academy in McKinney. Durham said Citizen Fire Academy programs became popular across the USA in the early 90’s as a way of educating the citizens about the real role of their community fire service.
“It allowed a better understanding of their tax dollars, promotes fire and life safety messages, creates an educated consumer, and is a great public relations tool,” she said. It also serves to build a volunteer base for activities and events. This is especially beneficial as the community faces increasing demands with fewer resources.”
Those “fewer resources” included the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack, the faltering economy necessitating program and budget cuts, just to mention a few.
The program is free, and they accept applicants per class, on a first come first serve basis.
“We limit registration to 20 individuals each year,” Durham said. “Fifteen is the optimal class size, and as a rule if 20 register, two to three will have to drop prior to or during the academy.”
Durham adds there is no “hard and fast” deadline to register, but 19 people have already registered for 2013.
“While the class is almost full, I have a wait list in case openings occur,” she added. “I also use this list as my beginning notification list for the coming year.”