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13 complete fire recruit school

By Scott Mims

Thirteen recruits graduated from the Thorsby Fire Recruit School last Friday, earning the right to be called firefighters.

Among them were several recruits from Chilton County. These included Tony Edwards of Clanton Fire Department, Robert Jernigan of Thorsby Fire Department, Matt Savage of Thorsby FD, Ryan O’Toole of Union Grove Fire Department, Cody Beasley of Thorsby FD, Cortley Minor of West Chilton Fire Department and Hunter Northcutt of Thorsby FD.

“This was probably our youngest class,” said Thorsby Fire Chief Lee Gunn. “I think this class pulled together really well as a group.”

The other graduates were James McGowin of White City Fire Department, Thomas Churchey of Odenville Fire Department, Jason Seaborn of Lawrence Mill Fire Department, David Byers of Margaret Fire Department, David Hyche of Concord Fire District and Brandon Frazier of Margaret FD.

Approximately 200 people attended the graduation, which was held in the fellowship hall of Thorsby First Baptist Church.

The recruit school was started in 2002, and Friday’s class was the fourth to graduate from the facility.

The rigorous, 400-hour recruit school covers 13 subject areas of training such as ladders, rescue, hose operations, hazardous materials operations and other topics. Training is conducted hands-on as well as in the classroom.

The 13 graduates received their diplomas, Firefighter I and Firefighter II certification, official department badges and NIMS (National Incident Management System) certification.

Gunn said the recruits came from all walks of life but learned to work as one unit, which is essential in any fire operation.

“You can’t do anything in the fire service alone. It takes more than one,” he said.

Gunn expressed his appreciation to Thorsby Mayor Dearl Hilyer and the town council, as well as those who attended and instructors of the course.

“I think it’s a real eye-opening experience for the public officials who were here (for the graduation),” Gunn said.

At 40, Tony Edwards of Clanton Fire Department was the oldest graduate of the school. Edwards served as a volunteer firefighter with Enterprise Fire Department for 18 years before he started with Clanton.

He said the best thing about the course was its accessibility. Had such a facility not been available in Chilton County, he would have had to go to the Alabama Fire College in Tuscaloosa.

“I’m married and I have two children, and for me to go to Tuscaloosa and stay four nights a week, it would have been very hard,” he said.

Edwards added that he learned a lot about fires, fire behavior and up-to-date techniques.

“Fire has always been fire, but the tools and techniques have changed over the years,” he said.