Volunteer firefighter training heats up

Pullman Reserve Firefighter Program has training day to test physical abilities



WSU sophomore Nathan Richardson and Pullman Firefighter Angela Teal look at the firefighter training tower while other participants wait for their turn at the facility Saturday morning.

EMMA LEDBETTER, Evergreen reporter

The Pullman Fire Department held a practice physical test Saturday morning for candidates interested in the Reserve Firefighter Program.

“I’m really interested in the medical side of EMS and fire because it’s 80 percent of what firefighters do,” said Finley Harrison, freshman biology major who is trying out for the reserve program.

Reserve firefighters respond to EMS calls, as well as fire and hazardous material calls. The program serves as a gateway for a career in firefighting or other health-related professions.

Participants must be in top physical condition to be able to keep up with the rigorous demands of the job.

The training allowed participants to practice physical agility requirements such as a stair climb, victim drag, hose pull and forcible entry into a building while they were timed by members of the Pullman Fire Department. Altogether, the required activities had to be completed in under seven minutes.

“The stairs portion starts burning real fast,” said Harrison during the stair climb practice. “And they told me I had to go faster.”

Participants also practiced climbing an 85-foot aerial ladder, which must be done in under three minutes.

“[The test] was tiring, but also a lot of fun,” said Nathan Richardson, sophomore kinesiology major. “It was well worth it … definitely physically exhausting.”

The official physical test for the reserve program is Sept. 20. In order to qualify for the reserves, participants must pass physical, as well as written and oral, tests, Harrison said.

Once candidates complete the academy training in Pullman, they attend a 9-month state academy program in either North Bend or Spokane, where they get live fire training, Pullman Reserve Firefighter Parker Buchanan said.

After candidates complete all their training, they can start working shifts with other reserve members and career firefighters, Buchanan said.

The program allows members to connect to their community while helping many different people and local groups. Reserve members often work first aid shifts at football games and other city events.

“It’s a public servant job,” Buchanan said. “You’re here to serve people and serve the community you’re in.”

Since Pullman does not have a dedicated ambulance service, the fire department also provides any needed medical care and transport in the community, Harrison said.

“Firefighting in general is the best job,” Buchanan said. “Whether we’re working football games for the university or the high school or just out here training, it’s all fun.”