KILGORE, Texas (KLTV) - Cadets of an East Texas fire academy faced a major test, battling a structure fire, in full bunker-gear, in the sweltering East Texas summer heat.
In a real-time structure fire suppression exercise, cadets with Kilgore Fire Academy used all the skills they had learned to battle a blaze and the academy’s drill field, in full bunker gear, in the August heat.
“Even before I’m entering through the door, I feel sweat dripping down my face. It really forces me to focus intensely,” says cadet Lilia Ayala of Windcrest, Texas.
For many like the Canadian students, it was their first experience with such harsh conditions.
“You definitely got to know your limits, and listen to your own body. Be sure to get out if you’re ready to overheat,” says Liam Atkinson of Nova Scotia, Canada.
"We're coaching them, we're telling them what to do all week, we build them from the beginning steps all the way up to live fire day," says academy lead instructor Ron Clower.
The purpose was to see if the group could ignore the heat, and focus on what firefighters do. Beat back the flames, and save those who might be inside.
"When I was inside everything that happened outside didn't matter to me. I was just focusing on the task at hand," Atkinson says.
“The final day we want to find out, did all the information you learned over 4 months, did it click? So we put them through as realistic of a fire scenario as we can,” says academy director Mike Simmons
Working through the billowing smoke and stifling heat, cadets prove their metal with tests like this.
"I feel like if I can handle this right here. I can handle anything up in Canada," Liam says.
The group of 28 cadets is set to graduate on August 20th, after they have passed state skills written exam and finals testing.