After nine weeks behind-the-scenes with the Valdosta Fire Department (VFD), 18 citizens graduated from the VFD Citizens Fire Academy, on Oct. 25. The program, in its third year, educates citizens and the business community about the services provided by the VFD, increases fire and life-safety awareness, and establishes community partnerships.
Graduates of the program are: Alvaro Angel, Courtney Haggard, Daniel Joseph Jansen, Diana Angel, Evangelio Cintron, Genevieve Chavez, Genna Kasun, Jacqueline Cintron, Joey Dulanto, Kamil Cook, Rusty Wetherington, Sally Turner Querin, Bob Cornelius, Sarah Lowe, Susan A. Barden, Viola H. Coston, Wanda Halter and Gerald Martin.
“I decided that this would be a great start for me to figure out how the community works and to get a feel for what goes on behind the scenes,” said Genevieve Chavez, a local student majoring in emergency management. “It has definitely opened my eyes and has made me a stronger and well-informed citizen.”
Each Tuesday night since Aug. 30, participants were exposed to all aspects of the department’s operations. Among a number of activities, they witnessed demonstrations on search and rescue, extrication, and fire prevention; participated in the VFD’s Ride-Along Program, a live burn, high-angle rescue, and how firefighters’ personal protective equipment works; visited to the 911 Center and VFD Training Center; and all received their CPR certifications.
“I commend the 2016 Citizens Fire Academy graduates for their time and commitment to the program, but I am most impressed by their genuine interests in the mission of the Valdosta Fire Department and its life-saving impact on our citizens,” said Valdosta Fire Chief Freddie Broome. “These men and women are exemplary citizens who understand the value of being intricately informed about their local government. I look forward to seeing how they will use the knowledge they have gained to make a difference in our community.”
The VFD gives thanks to these local businesses for providing the meals each week for Citizen's Fire Academy: KFC, Sam’s Club, Jessie's Restaurant & Catering, Austin’s Cattle Company, Buffalo Wild Wings, Big Nick’s, Chick-fil-A and Covington’s.
The Citizens Fire Academy is one of three volunteer programs in the City of Valdosta available to citizens—the other two are the Citizens Police Academy and the Government 101 Citizens Orientation Program—designed to give citizens valuable knowledge of local government services and community resources. The next annual Citizens Fire Academy will begin in August 2017. For more information about the program or to obtain an application, call the VFD at (229) 333-1835 or visit http://www.valdostacity.com/fire.