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Henry Fire Academy has new graduates

Photo by Elaine Rackley: Some of the members of Fall 2010 class of the Henry County Fire Department’s Citizen Fire Academy recently received  graduation certificates. There were 14 students, who took part in the 10 weeks of classes, on such topics as: Fire Behavior,  EMS Training, and Simulated Fire Scene.

Photo by Elaine Rackley: Some of the members of Fall 2010 class of the Henry County Fire Department’s Citizen Fire Academy recently received graduation certificates. There were 14 students, who took part in the 10 weeks of classes, on such topics as: Fire Behavior, EMS Training, and Simulated Fire Scene.

Brett Gronau said he has wanted to become a firefighter since he was 12.

The Hampton resident, along with 13 others, just completed a 10-week class as a student of the Henry County Fire Department’s Citizen Fire Academy.

He’s not a firefighter, but he has had shared some of their experiences.

“It was a blast, it was awesome,” said Gronau. “The hands-on training was amazing. I have to give thanks to all of the Henry County firefighters for what they do.”

Gronau, along with the other students in the class, received their certificates during a graduation ceremony on Nov. 17. The next session for other citizens with similar dreams, begins in 2012.

“I watched a movie called “Ladder 49,” and [another one,] “Backdraft.” Both of those movies were inspirational,” said Gronau.

The best thing about the academy, he said, was wearing the equipment, going to Station One, cutting a car, and taking the agility test.

“I had the experience of picking up the equipment and watching what happens during a live fire, and what it feels like to go inside a building that is completely pitch black, and you can’t see what’s in front of you,” he said.

Gronau said he wants to save lives when he becomes a firefighter. “[In] other jobs, you do the same thing everyday, [but] being a firefighter, you never know what you are going to get,” he added.

“The number one asset we have in our county, and in this department, is our personnel,” said Henry County Fire Chief Brad Johnson, addressing those at the Citizen Fire Academy graduation at the county’s fire department headquarters, in McDonough.

The goals of the Citizens’ Fire Academy is to give residents a basic understanding of the tactics and strategies of firefighting, and rescue operations. Students are urged to share their experiences.

Fire academy students ranged from teenagers to senior citizens.

Bruce Butler, 66, for example, was graduating for a second time from the fire academy. He was a first-time student in the spring of 2009. Butler said he repeated the class to experience the new changes in the academy.

“The class is more hands-on now ...” said Butler. The Stockbridge resident is a retired aircraft mechanic with Delta Air Lines.

“I am just amazed at the different situations they get involved in, and the knowledge they have to have to do their jobs,” said Butler. “It is unbelievable, they are constantly training.”