Four intrepid candidates for the firefighter position with the Key West Fire Department completed the difficult agility test required to be considered for the job.
There is currently one open position; however upcoming retirements mean that these candidates will be considered in the near future.
Many of the current members of the fire department started out at the Key West High School Fire Academy. This two-year program is followed by two years of fire school after high school graduation. Then comes the agility test.
The current high school students in the academy set up the field for the agility testing on Thursday. The test consists of climbing the 75-foot ladder on the ladder truck, followed immediately by single-handedly pulling a firehose a good 50 feet. From there, they must challenge their upper body strength by hefting a 50-pound jaws of life unit, carrying it several feet and controlling the jaws as if they were going to begin cutting, then return it to the original spot.
Next, the candidates must heft a 24-foot extension ladder, lean it against a structure, then ease it back down. Once that is done, they must drag a firehose 100 feet. For the final part of the test, the candidates dragged a 175-pound dummy – dressed in full turnout gear -- 100 feet to ensure they would be able to pull a fallen person or colleague from danger. If that is not hard enough, the candidates must complete the tasks dressed in their turnout gear and wearing air tanks on their backs.
Completion is not the only component of the test; timing is vital.
"I'm very proud of each of these young people who did so well," said Fire Chief Alan Averette. "It is hard work and a lot of dedication to get to this point, but it's vital to ensure that the Key West Fire Department is prepared for any situation in the community."