SALEM, Va. – Salem citizens are taking a crash course in firefighting. The Salem Fire and EMS Department is hosting its second Citizens Fire Academy, where first responders step back from the job and step into the classroom.
"A lot of times you pass the firehouses but you really don't know what's happening inside those firehouses. We do technical rescues, hazardous materials, so much more than just fighting fires," said John Prillaman, Salem fire chief.
Outside of the classroom, citizens are also getting hands-on training using fire extinguishers.
"Sometimes we take the job for granted. When we have people that come in from the outside and we show them what we do, they really express a lot of appreciation, our personnel really like it," said Prillaman.
During the 10-week course, citizens will learn everything from fire marshal rules to EMS techniques to climbing the ladder truck. And last week, all the citizens received life-saving training that will last far beyond the course.
"CPR, we took it last week and got certified. I learned a lot about what the firemen are doing as we toured the fire station, seeing how they sleep, live and work on their 24-hour shifts," said Quinn Mongan.
Once the first few weeks of training are completed, citizens will have the opportunity to ride along with first responders, a first for many.