Recruits pushed, timed, tested to become new firefighters - | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Recruits pushed, timed, tested to become new firefighters


Nearly 40 men and women were pushed, cheered, times and put through the ringer Tuesday morning for their chance to become a firefighter.

After taking and passing a written test, these recruits are put to a physical test at the Columbia Fire Department Training Center. Those who have been through it describe it one way.

"A challenge above no other challenge that I have experienced before," Firefighter Steve Victor said.

Their first challenge is to make their way through a maze, testing their tolerance for being in tight enclosed spaces. If they're able to make it in two minutes, they get to move on.

The second phase of the physical agility test requires recruits to grab a 50-pound hose and head up a tower. When they make it to the top of the tower, they work to pull the hose through a window.

In the final stretch of the test, recruits run with a hose and rescue a 185-pound dummy. Some made the set time with no problem. For others, it was a struggle. Columbia Firefighter Terri Hale remembers the feeling.

"The first year I came over to take the test, I came within 10 feet of the finish line and my time expired," Hale said.

At 5'1" weighing 100 pounds, it took Hale four times to pass.

"The more you want it an the more you fight for it," Hale said, "the more you put it all out there."

Another firefighter who also came to Columbia to fight for a position with the Department is Victor.

"When I came to Columbia, I weighed 390 pounds," he said. "By the end of my graduation, give or take I believe it was December 6th, I was down to 264."

Their personal struggles and gains are what bring members of the Department to the training center to cheer on the recruits. They know what it's like to be part of something that helps so many.

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