Detroit Fire Department's newest recruits face the flames

(WXYZ) - It's not for the weak, and just over half way through their training, the Detroit Fire Department's newest recruits are finding out just how grueling the job can be.

There is a science to fire. You can read about it, you can talk about it and watch countless videos.  But, the real test, is the moment a trainee stares into the flames.  That's the moment they find out if they have the courage to be a Detroit firefighter.

In the smoke and flames are lessons to learn. Lessons to staying alive.

"You get down, you mask up, tank up," said DFD trainee Desmond Orr. "Next thing you know you are in a dark room and there are flames and you have to put them out."

At the Michigan Institute for Public Safety Education, recruits are put to the test.  But, are they able to stand the heat?

"The temperatures in there are anywhere from five to seven hundred degrees and we have interactive smoke," said MIPSE provost Anthony Arminiak.

It's Chief Stephen Johnson's responsibility to prepare these guys for the harsh realities of Detroit's streets.  He only has five months to do it.  Week fifteen and the recruits are facing flames for the first time.  About 77 signed up for the challenge, right now, 68 are left.

It's the first fire academy for the department since 2009.  The department is struggling to manage a manpower shortage.  The recruits able to make it to graduation day will be thrown into the mix.

"Right now we have an average of 23 people in on overtime to cover the spots, so when you add 68 to the mix, that will help us cover all the spots," said Chief Johnson.

The Detroit Fire Department is still hiring.  Next academy is scheduled to start this fall.


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