CINCINNATI - The Cincinnati Fire Training Bureau situated on West Liberty in West End is home to a sight not seen in three years: recruits.
"Come on, get 'em on, get 'em on, we've got somebody in there," shouted Lt. Grant Light as the 38 recruits raced to put on their hoods, masks and gloves.
Like Lee Ermey's Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in the movie "Full Metal Jacket," Light walks among the recruits stressing the importance of speed.
"You go into an apartment building and you get up to the second floor and that's where the smoke is. That's when you're going to do this. You don't want your helmet to fall down the stairs. You don't want your gloves to fall down the stairs. You don't want to drop the nozzle. You got to be able to do this anywhere any time," bellowed Light.
Among the recruits is Kyle Swadener, 27.
"Once I got about halfway through college I realized I don't really know what I want to do right now but I know I want to do something that helps out the community makes a difference in people's lives so I figured fire fighting would be a good place to do that," said Swadener.
A federal grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency or FEMA is paying for the recruits' salaries for the next two years. The city and the department is also applying for a second grant that would pay for an additional 40 recruits.
After the grant expires the city will have to pay their salaries. Approved staffing levels for the fire department sit at 841 but since 2009 the department has lost 77 to retirement and other reasons. While the new recruits won't bring the city back to pre 2009 levels it will go a long way to save money.
"With the new recruit class out there, another thirty eight people into the mix, it's going to cut down on overtime and it's going to get more people responding on runs," said Light referring to brown outs in which stations are closed to save money.
There is a lot of hope for this class and even a sigh of relief as they prepare to go on-line next spring.
After which the city hopes to train another class in 2013.
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