Fire cadets continue training in spirit of MLK Day

While many people had the MLK holiday off: a group of cadets were out early training to become fire fighters.  The work of service, they hope to do, is in the spirit of the day.

It was a cold day for a training session. Despite the temperature these cadets were breaking out in a sweat.

"Yeah you want to push the guys to their limits, you want to make them see what its really going to be like when we are out there actually doing work, the conditions are what the conditions are, so we are out there to serve the public,” said Training Captain Robert Ortiz.

The group of 13 cadets, with the Pflugerville/Travis County Emergency Services District Number 2 range in age from 21 to 39. They worked on specific job assignments, learning what to do after arriving on fire scene.

Chris Wolff, one of the oldest cadets in the class, has a Master's degree and was a civilian employee with the U.S. Army. After spending more than a decade in Europe - he decided it was time to come home.

"Fire fighters honestly seemed to be a fun job. And my wife said it would be all right if I did it, so I was all over it,” said Wolff.

The training is not focused only on responding to fires -- the majority of calls in the Pflugerville district involve medical emergencies.  That’s why crews also work on pulling people from car wrecks -- and learning how to do high angle as well as swift-water rescues.

The cadets that make it will protect more than Pflugerville, itself. The fire district is large, with more than 70 square miles to cover. The class will bring staffing up to 85. Urban encroachment into what was once mostly farm land factors into the training program. The wild fire outbreak in 2011 is also an example of the dynamic conditions the cadets may face.

"That was kind of our biggest event in years, so yeah it opened the eyes up more to the public to say, yes this can happen in my back yard, but you know what our guys are here and they are ready to solve the problem,” said Capt. Ortiz.

The new recruits will soon find out if they are ready for the job. At the end of the month they’ll go through a 24 hour drill -- simulating a long shift.  Essentially -- a trial by fire -- that can lead to a life of community service.

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