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The Citizens Fire Academy was initiated in 2000 to help citizens understand the operations of the Las Vegas Fire and Rescue Department and fire services in general. The academy is divided into three areas: classroom participation, tours of facilities and hands-on experience. Citizens learn simple first aid and CPR, get to ride with firefighters during real emergencies and dedicate one day at the Fire Training Center to experience the use of the “Jaws of Life,” handling a fire hose and wearing firefighting protective clothing while going through a simulated building fire.
The program is open to anyone, 17 years or older, who is interested in fire service. The program is not designed for people seeking a career in fire services. Although the class provides a good overview, it is general in nature and not as technical as some fire science courses available at the community college.
The academy is divided into two classes. One class meets on Tuesday nights (Class A) and the other meets on Thursday nights (Class B). Students are required to attend only one class per week. Class times are 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.
The program includes 10, three-hour classes, a required ride-along for four hours and a six-hour "hands-on" class at the fire training center, for a total of 40 hours.
The Citizens Fire Academy director is Timothy R. Szymanski, public information officer for the Las Vegas Fire and Rescue Department. Personnel from the Fire and Rescue Department and members of other organizations teach the academy classes.
The academy is held once each year, February through May. Applications are available during December. Candidates who are selected are notified in January. Classes begin in February.
Effective with the Class of 2004, all applicants must submit to a background check for security reasons.
If selected, academy participants must understand the following requirements:
- Participants in the academy are not members or employees of the Las Vegas Fire and Rescue Department.
- Participants must sign a waiver releasing the city of Las Vegas and the Las Vegas Fire and Rescue Department of all liabilities while participating in the academy.
- Participants in the academy are not permitted to cross fire lines during emergencies or at other incidents.
- The use of any type of emergency warning device on private automobiles by members of the academy is strictly prohibited.
- There is no cost for attending the academy. During the class, there may be certain costs involved, which are strictly voluntary (such as purchasing a class shirt to use in class and during graduation).
- Participants are not required to complete activities that make them feel uncomfortable.
- Citizens will have the opportunity to do a ride-along with a paramedic ambulance crew and an engine company. Minimum time is two hours (or at least two responses), maximum time is six hours. There will be a special schedule to set up for ride-alongs. The calendar will be available each class. The academy director must approve each sign-up. Arrangements made with company officers for additional ride alongs are prohibited. All ride alongs must be approved by the academy director, absolutely no exceptions.