Iowa firefighters brush up on skills in Cedar Rapids - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowa firefighters brush up on skills in Cedar Rapids


Sam Brown has been a Cedar Falls firefighter for the past two years.

But the department doesn't see many fires, so he spent his weekend brushing up on his extinguishing skills.

"We need to keep sharp on our skills in case it happens," said Brown.  "We need to be able to react."

Brown was one of 700 people at the 26th annual Central Iowa Training Association - Kirkwood Fire School.

It's one of the largest training sessions for firefighters in the state.

"It's the way that firefighters who don't get enough training can come and get it here," said John Zlabek, Chairman of Fire School Training Board.

There's training in several different areas of a firefighter's job, like putting out fires, grain bin rescues, and auto extrication.

Departments choose what skills they want to spend the weekend working on, usually ones in which they don't get much practice.

"In order for firefighters to keep up their skills, and because there's constantly a changing roster of firefighters, we need to have the continual training," said Zlabek.  Otherwise they get rusty on their skills, they get hurt on the job, they don't take care of the public."

Along with professional and volunteer firefighters, there are students like Graciela Jonzalez.

She's wanted to be a firefighter since 9/11.

"Looking at on TV when everything happened, I felt worthless not doing anything, not being a EMS or a firefighter and right then and there I thought that's what I want to do," said Jonzalez.

After this weekend, she's better prepared for what a career of fighting fires will bring and Brown says he's ready for the next time he responds to a fire.

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