AUBURN — Officials will open the doors to the city’s fire stations for 10 weeks this spring, kicking off Auburn’s first Citizens Fire Academy.

“I’ve seen these classes where we have doctors and lawyers and butchers, bakers and candlestick makers and you name it,” said Auburn fire Chief Frank Roma. “They get out there, and they act like a bunch of little kids, squirting the fire hose and having their pictures taken on the fire truck.”

The 10-week program will take Auburn residents into the city’s fire stations. They’ll learn about fire safety in their own homes and offices, fire prevention, CPR, fire extinguisher operation and what goes on behind the scenes at the city’s fire stations and 911 center.

But they’ll also get out of the classroom, learning how to rappel down from a building, operate the Jaws of Life, drive a fire engine on a closed course and ride to the top of the city’s 100-foot-tall ladder truck.

Participants will also be allowed to ride out with fire crews on real emergency calls.

Roma, who came to Auburn last summer, said he ran several citizen academies at his last post in Texas.

“People think they know what the fire department does or what it takes to run the department,” Roma said. “But they really don’t have a true understanding because the opportunity to interact with us doesn’t exist — unless you have to dial 911.”

The course is scheduled to run for 10 weeks on Wednesdays and on two Saturdays. The course is free, but the department is only offering 15 spaces for the program.

Classes will move around from station to station with attendees getting a chance to try the equipment out and meet the firefighters.

“We have great toys,” Roma said. “We have firetrucks and gear, and they are all great, fun things to show and tell. But it’s the people that operate that equipment that really matter. They’re the people that come out to your residence at 3 in the morning, and they really make us what we are.”

Roma said he hopes to offer the program each year.

“I’ve had people participate that were in their late 70s, and I’ve had people that were 18,” Roma said. “Everything we offer, you don’t have to participate. If you want to go up in the bucket, you can. If you want to put on the turnout gear and crawl around in a simulated maze, you can. But you don’t have to.”

People with questions should contact Office Manager Sheri Buck at the Auburn Fire Department at 333-6633 ext. 3 or via email at [email protected]

Roma said the department will accept applications March 1.

[email protected]


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