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New paid recruits bolster Fauquier fire halls

Tuesday, Apr. 1 | By Julie Taylor
Fauquier Times Staff Photo/Randy Litzinger
The 11 new paid staff fire and rescue recruits for Fauquier County were sworn in last Friday after completing 27 weeks of training.

On March 21, fire and rescue departments in Fauquier County welcomed in 11 new paid staff recruits. They are 10 men and one woman between the ages of 22 to 38. Coming from all walks of life, they had one thing in common.

"Most of them have experience to some degree in fire or [emergency medical services]," said Lt. Russel Baker of his trainees.

In training, they were required to go through 27 weeks of recruit school, totaling 1,080 hours.

"Not one missed man hour," Baker said. "Every person was here on time every day, all day. They do a strenuous physical training every morning. They've been through a lot. It's hard to explain everything they’ve been through," said Baker.

A few of their new skills include, driving the vehicles, pumping water off the fire trucks, fighting the fire itself, operating the ladder trucks, and "Anything you can possibly imagine, they get while in recruit school," Baker said.

In addition to a rigorous schedule, the crew kept up the pace throughout flu season.

"Every class we've had, we've had a strain of flu go through everybody. Myself included," Baker said. But because they have specific guidelines established by the state of Virginia, It was necessary to attend class even while feeling ill.

"It's amazing the dedication they give when they come through recruit school," Baker said.

One of the new recruits, 25 year old Technician Burke Latimer, was sent to Remington Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department for now. He said he took the training because his father and grandfather are both doctors who took their care to the next level.

"I wanted to make house calls and go back to my roots," Latimer said. He said nowadays, being an EMT is the most sensible option for making house calls. Latimer said he's been a volunteer for a number of years, and finally decided to take the step to become a career firefighter. He said the best part of doing what he does is the relationships.

"From day one they've considered us family. Within the first hour we were really close. There's not many jobs when you wake up and say I can't wait to get to work," said Latimer. He said the training was not only physically intensive but mentally. Six months ago he could do three dead hang pull ups, and now he can do 11. For the pen and paper portion, he said he and the crew would form study groups and at times study throughout the night.

On March 4, the recruits had their final burn training in which a specially designed building, set up with wood pallets and straw, was ignited into a simulator.

"You get whooped all day long. We pushed each other to the limits," Latimer said. But according to him, it was worth it.

"I have the best job in the world. These are no longer my friends, they're my family," Latimer said. "It's been a long six months but I'm sad to leave. I don't want to leave my family. I enjoy spending time with them. I still want to learn more. Lt. Baker is one of the smartest guys I know; the best lieutenant anybody could ask for.”

Looking toward the future he said," I'm excited to get out there and do what I was hired to do. We're all ready to get on a fire truck."

"This is pretty much a once in a lifetime opportunity," Baker said. "And that's why all of us on the training staff and [Fauquier County Fire and Rescue] are very proud of each and every one of the recruits that graduate here."

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