With 65 pounds of gear on their backs, College of the Mainland Fire Academy students hacked through walls, forced windows open and sliced ventilation holes in a roof during an intensive training at a Texas City home set to be demolished.

At a house on S. Cobb damaged by Hurricane Ike and set for demolition this week, fire cadets practiced the skills needed to extinguish fires and rescue people from burning structures.
“It was a good adrenaline rush,” said COM Fire Academy cadet James Williams.
The drill was one of the many hands-on training sessions for students in the 16-week academy.
“It’s harder than it looks,” said cadet Garrett Bridges. “When you have all of your gear on, it’s a lot more taxing than you’d think.”
The use of the home was a partnership with city and county officials.
“We coordinate to get the best use of resources so it’s not just improving the lives of residents but protecting lives of future firefighters,” said Steve Mataro, owner of DSW homes, which will rebuild the home in 45 to 60 days.
During the training, instructors showed cadets the signs to spot.
“When you did a 360 (look around the house), you saw toys,” explained instructor Chief Tim Johnson. “That indicates kids are here. They can be afraid and hide.”
Cadets will also crawl through mazes, complete physical training and prepare in the classroom for the state certification exam.
“This is a hands-on intensive course. About 60 percent is hands-on,” said lead instructor Chief Stan Kozlowski. “We show them they can overcome any obstacle including their own stamina. Internal barriers are just as important as physical barriers, breaking down walls. They have to push past all the things – tiredness, thirst – because there’s a greater goal. I can make somebody’s life better or save a life.”

Through classroom and field training, the COM Fire Academy prepares students to receive Basic Fire Suppression Certification with the Texas Commission on Fire Protection (TCFP), required in order to be a career firefighter in Texas.

For more information about the COM Fire Academy, visit www.com.edu/fire-technology or contact Danny McLerran at 409-933-8378.