The San Marcos Fire Department is hosting its sixth annual Citizens Fire Academy starting in August.
The Citizens Fire Academy was created to educate the community on how the fire department takes care of its people, and to give the public the opportunity to get hands-on experience in fire safety.
Assistant Chief Karl Kuhlman and Battalion Chief Howie Minor set up the Citizens Fire Academy six years ago with help from Fire Chief Les Stephens.
The classes begin Aug. 15 and go until Nov. 7.
The Citizens Fire Academy is aimed at the people living and working in San Marcos in order to educate the community on how the SMFD operates.
“The Citizens Fire program educates the cadets on what we do, how we do it, what the fire department does for the community and also to help spread awareness,” said Melinda Villarreal, SMFD administrative assistant.
The program is not a certification, but instead is an opportunity for the public to gain insight into the fire department.
“It’s not certification by any means, it’s just to help the citizens of San Marcos be aware of the services we provide and to increase fire and life safety,” Villarreal said.
Villarreal said the goal is for participants to have the opportunity to learn through hands-on experiences.
“There is a lot of hands-on experience, which makes it a lot of fun,” Villarreal said. “You will get fitted in what they call “bunker gear,” which is personal protection equipment. You will learn how the department puts out dumpster fires, and you will learn fire extinguisher safety.”
During the academy, the fire department will also have some information and activities about water safety.
“We teach about water rescue, and we have a hands-on activity where we go to Rio Vista Falls and you will learn how the fire department rescues people from flood water,” Villarreal said.
The Citizens Fire Academy is a window into the hard work the local firefighters put in for the San Marcos community.
“It does increase our own principle awareness of what the fire department does and how much work is really involved,” Villarreal said.
Villarreal said the program increases knowledge about safety and rescue, but also teaches people about themselves.
“Not only do you get to see how the fire department does things, but you also learn a lot about yourself,” Villarreal said. “You do things that most people would never have an opportunity to do. You get to work through fears you may have or not even know you have.”
The Citizen Fire Academy classes are free and can hold up to 15 people each. For those interested, they can apply online through applications or contact the SMFD at 512-805-2660 for more information.