SOUTH CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – About the same time the South Charleston Fire Department opens its doors up every morning, their newest probationary firefighters, Mat Neil and Josh Huffman, get ready for their intense morning training.
“What we are trying to do is get their bodies in shape and use to wearing the gear and being able to react in a stressful environment,” says Jerrod Williams, a SC firefighter that is in charge of a lot of the training.
“The last three groups that went through hated me all the way through it, but at the end they knew that there was a reason that they were doing it,” add Williams.
The probationary firefighters do most of their physical training with 75 to 90 lbs of gear on, so they are acclimated to doing strenuous activity with the added weight. It also helps them practicing getting the gear on quick.
Neil and Huffman’s training includes more than just heavy lifting.
“It’s constantly on the go.It’s very physically and mentally challenging,” says Huffman.
They spend a lot of their time in the classroom studying, running through scenarios and taking exams.
Neil and Huffman are tested everyday on their strength and knowledge, but there is one more quality necessary for the job.
“You have to have the passion because we are going to put you in situations you are not going to want to be in, so if you have the passion and the drive and the want to…you will be here,” says Williams
The South Charleston rookies don’t seem to have an issue with the passion portion of the job.
“I just can’t wait to get on shift. You’re eager for it. Every little child dreams of being a firefighter or a police officer or something like that whenever he’s younger and I am living my dream,” adds Huffman. “it’s all family atmosphere. You can’t really get away from it, you just love it. This city, this department, the way these guys operate. It’s fantastic and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”
Neil and Huffman are just a few weeks in with the department. They have a lot to learn before their first shift in October, but both say they are more than ready for the journey.