EDMOND — Blazing fires faced participants in the Edmond Fire Department's Citizens Fire Academy as they prepared for graduation from the 12-week academy.
Academy participants dressed in full firefighting gear and armed with high-powered water hoses took on the role of professional firefighters.
“It was overwhelming,” said Regina Lowry, of Edmond, who attended the academy with her son, Philip, and husband, Justin. “I felt safe. It surprised me how rapidly it turned into a swamp, that there was so much water.”
Jim McCauley, a former law enforcement officer, took the fire department academy after taking the police department's citizens academy in the fall.
“I have a new respect for firefighters,” said McCauley, 66. “This is a young man's game. It is physically demanding. These guys are really fit. You can't just give a guy a hat and make him a firefighter.”
Lowry called her time in the academy and learning to put out fires a “very good experience.”
“The fire was very, very hot,” Lowry said.
“It was very real, vivid. I remember thinking I want to get out of here. I thought, ‘The firefighters can't think like that.'”
The Citizens Fire Academy provides Edmond residents a basic understanding of fire, rescue and emergency medical operations.
“The program is designed to enhance participants' knowledge of the department's capabilities, as well as build relationships between the Edmond Fire Department and the citizens we strive to protect,” fire Maj. Kelly Lewis said.
Graduation for the 13 participants will begin at 6 p.m. Thursday at the training center, 5300 E Covell Road.