Phoenix fire academy resumes classes after coronavirus break

Oct 12, 2020, 4:25 AM
(KTAR News Photo/ Ali Vetnar)...
(KTAR News Photo/ Ali Vetnar)
(KTAR News Photo/ Ali Vetnar)

PHOENIX – The Phoenix Fire Department on Monday will host its first academy class since the start of coronavirus outbreak in Arizona.

Comprised of forty recruits from four different cities, the department will train the class over the next 16 weeks as they prepare to start their career in the midst of a pandemic.

“We were concerned about the numbers that we would normally take in an academy and we put a cap on it at 40 – that had a lot to do with the space and availability in the classrooms,” Mike Billingsley, Phoenix Fire Division Chief at the Regional Training Academy, told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Friday.

Because of the risk of gathering the groups, the class of aspiring firefighters started their academy with a COVID-19 test.

“It’s an interesting environment because not only do we have didactic training that we do, but we have physical hands on training that we have to accomplish to train firefighters,” Billingsley said.

He pointed out the decisions made for this academy weighed heavily on the department ahead of the start date. However, the decision to move forward with training did not come without the department taking numerous precautions to minimize the risk of infection and keep recruits and instructors healthy.

The training facility is closed to outside agencies and anyone other than essential training personnel who have been cleared ahead of time.

Following the city’s mandatory mask policy, both the recruits and instructors will wear masks indoors. In addition, the instructional classrooms have been opened up for socially distancing purposes.

Recruits have access to cleaning wipes and disinfectant, and they regularly wipe down and clean their own spaces as well as common areas throughout the facility. The facility has also implemented increased cleaning that is done by custodial services, who thoroughly sanitize the facility with a cleaning fog.

Billingsley accepted the responsibility that comes as the leader of the first fire academy class in Phoenix since the pandemic. Since day one he has worked hard to communicate the importance of health and safety for everyone involved, especially those working to earn the title of a firefighter.

“If you get it, it could potentially omit you or keep you away from the training that is vital to turn out a firefighter,” He said.

As unprecedented and alarming as the outbreak has been for first responders, the department has prepared “buffer time” in the event of a recruit contracting COVID-19. This allows for extra time to be built into the academy class.

“We are no stranger to communicable diseases that are out there always, but this one is interesting with a lot of unknowns,” Billingsley said.

He described the dialog to recruits has been consistent to stay safe, wear masks, and to protect themselves so they can get graduate the academy safely in the next 16 weeks.

Lifetime Windows & Doors

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

FILE - Kari Lake, Arizona Republican candidate for governor, speaks to supporters at the Republican...
Associated Press

Lake seeks election records in suit against Arizona county

Kari Lake, the defeated Republican candidate for Arizona governor, has filed a public records lawsuit demanding Maricopa County hand over a variety of documents related to the election.
1 day ago
Carey Johnson and her son Fabian Swain are photographed wearing face masks in their Germantown, Md....
Associated Press

After a year, omicron still driving COVID surges and worries

A year after omicron began its assault on humanity, the ever-morphing coronavirus mutant drove COVID-19 case counts higher in many places just as Americans gathered for Thanksgiving.
1 day ago
(City of Mesa Photo)...

Merry Main Street with ice rink, other holiday activities returns to downtown Mesa

Mesa's annual Merry Main Street begins Friday and will offer multiple holiday activities for the whole family to enjoy each day through early January.
1 day ago
Joaquin Santiago Orozco (Mesa Police Department Photo)...

Mesa police involved in shooting with man who allegedly rammed them with vehicle

Mesa police were involved in a shooting with a man late Thursday night who allegedly rammed them with a vehicle after failing to stop for a civil traffic offense, authorities said.
1 day ago
Brian Hanrahan (Courtesy Photo)...

Silver Alert canceled after missing 78-year-old man found safe

A Silver Alert was canceled Friday after a missing 78-year-old man last seen in Phoenix was found safe, authorities said.
1 day ago
(Facebook Photo/City of Mesa, Arizona Government, Pexels Photo)...

Weekend guide: Here are the biggest events around metro Phoenix for Nov. 25-27

The holiday season is officially underway and there are plenty of events around the Valley this weekend to get into the festive mood.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Prep the plumbing in your home just in time for the holidays

With the holidays approaching, it's important to know when your home is in need of heating and plumbing updates before more guests start to come around.
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet can improve everyday life

Quantum Fiber supplies unlimited data with speeds up to 940 mbps, enough to share 4K videos with coworkers 20 times faster than a cable.

Key dates for Arizona sports fans to look forward to this fall

Fall brings new beginnings in different ways for Arizona’s professional sports teams like the Cardinals and Coyotes.
Phoenix fire academy resumes classes after coronavirus break