Thornton fire department gears up academy

2-month course gives overview of the roles of firefighters


Firefighters’ jobs go far beyond just fighting fires because they respond to many different types of emergency calls daily.

“We don’t have a fire every day but we do respond to about 20 calls a day,” said Lee Whitner, assistant chief at the Thornton Fire Department.

She described a firefighter as a jack-of-all-trades.

“People don’t realize what all the fire department does until the carbon monoxide alarm goes off or they smell natural gas or someone is sick or stuck somewhere or there’s a dog on ice or there’s a car accident,” she said.

To help residents understand more about what a firefighter’s job entails, and to get an understanding how their tax dollars are spent, the department is hosting the second annual Citizens’ Fire Academy starting March 13. The academy runs through May 15 and includes classroom sessions, a chance for students to participate on hands-on firefighting techniques - such as rope rigging and auto extrication - and site visits to all five departments.

“A lot of the academy graduates found (the academy) so empowering because it’s so hands on,” Whitner said.

She added that students can opt out of the hands-on exercises, such as climbing the truck ladder, if they prefer to just watch.

There is also a CPR course and students will be certified during the academy.

“The crews that are involved enjoy teaching the knowledge they have, they feel appreciated for the skills they have,” Whitner said.

The academy is free and is available to any Thornton resident 18 years or older. Applicants must agree to a background check. The program runs from 6-9:30 p.m. Thursdays from March 13 to May 15 with two Saturday special hands-on trainings. The students are only allowed to miss two classes, or they will not be able to graduate.

There are 20 slots available for the academy. Applications are due no later than Friday, Feb. 14, and are available at Fire Administration, 9500 Civic Center Drive, or can be found at more information, contact Public Education Coordinator Sabrina Iacovetta at 303-538-7654 or 

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