Evansville Fire Department trains new recruits despite heat

"We're practicing ventilation. We open the hole in the rooftop and let out the toxic gas and smoke," says Mike Larson, an instructor for the fire department.

Tuesday it was ventilation techniques. Later this week it'll be the burn chamber.

"We'll go in there and actually set a fire. We'll generate the heat. We'll get the heat levels 600 to 800 degrees," he says.

That's bad enough during a normal day, but with temperature flirting with the triple digits, it's really hot.

"Yeah, that's definitely an understatement," says Derrick Fullen, one of the new recruits. "You could be up there two minutes and drip some sweat."

It would be nice to reschedule training for when the weather cools down a little, but Larson says staffing levels are low.

"Right now we're about eight firefighters short," says Larson.

He says the fire department has already accepted four additional recruits into the program, but the process can take 4 to 5 months.

"Those four vacancies we have now could be six or eight by the time they start. If we don't have full staffing, it incurs debt on the city if they have to call people in to fill those positions," he says.

Which means, the fire department must continuously train recruits like these guys.

So bring on the 80 pounds of gear, "It's just kind of difficult, but it's good. It's fun," says Fullen.

Copyright 2012 WFIE. All rights reserved.