A Closer Look at Firefighting
Fire Ops 101
At 7 a.m. on Saturday, June 24, individuals representing various branches of local governments, were suited up and put to work. The gear a firefighter must wear in order to stay safe while performing his or her duties weighs about 40 pounds. With gear in place,they would be put through the course. The state of the art training facility in Garland is used by neighboring cities to train members of their fire departments. Included in their exercises was a mock car crash, and the group, being led by trained firefighters, were instrumental in putting out the flames, extracting passengers and performing CPR on the dummies. That was an example of one of the emergency situations encountered routinely by our firefighters.
David Riggs, President of the Garland Firefighters Association, organized the event to create awareness among those who are responsible for making decisions that impact the safety of the firefighters as well as the citizens they serve. The eight men and women who completed the course were made aware of the rigors and sacrifices of firefighting.
By mid afternoon the eight participants in the Fire Ops 101 Course had become fully aware of the physical fitness, mental toughness, self discipline and willingness to serve required of a firefighter. To find those attributes in an applicant is not easy, and competing for him or her with other municipalities is even harder. Garland is now competing with neighboring municipalities that offer higher starting salaries and more enticing benefit packages. Although training is exemplary, manpower and equipment are operating at a minimum.
When a Garland taxpayer dials 911, he has every right to expect the quickest response by the most highly qualified first responders with the best equipment. When it’s a matter of life or death, there can be no compromises. Citizens should not feel it necessary to move to another municipality in order to secure excellent services by first responders. Public Safety should be given top priority and trump all other expenditures provided for in city budgets. It is the moral obligation of every individual entrusted with public office to adhere to that basic principle.
Jerry Nickerson, newly elected to Garland’s City Council, was one of the 8 individuals who completed the Fire Ops 101 Course. In light of his new responsibilities and experience of the day, we asked what his take away was. This is what he told us, “What impressed me most was the sheer amount of training and equipment required for the firefighters to do their job safely. They are there to protect the citizens, but they also have to protect themselves. As a member of the City Council, I will do everything in my power to support the needs of our firefighters. At the end of the day, I just want to say how very impressed I am with the quality of our firefighters, their willingness to serve, and the sacrifices they make on a daily basis.”
The participants in the Fire Ops 101 course were:
Leslie Cloer, Garland Civil Service Director
Kathryn Klepak, Garland HR Director
Rick Vasquez, Garland AC Manager
Austin Hood, Chief of Staff for Representative Angie Chen Button HD112
Cindy Burkett, HD 113 State Representative and her husband Mike Burkett
Rich Aubin, Garland City Council District 5
Jerry Nickerson, Garland City Council District 3
Ron Young, Garland Budget Director
Robert Paulson, Chief of Staff for Representative Justin Holland HD 133
Trent Schultze, GFD Budget Analyst
+ Unknown Rockwall participants…