Firefighters 'go back to school' with Rural Metro

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Rural Metro's fire academy prepared incoming firefighters for big fires, such as the Gatlinburg wildfires.

"For me, it helps me know that I can make a difference in their life," said Auston Bowers, who is in the Rural Metro Fire Department Academy.

Rural Metro Fire Academy recruits like Auston Bowers go through wildland training every year. This year's is more extensive. Rural Metro's lead instructor Brad Rettig said different agencies across Tennessee came to help.

"When those fires happen, they get large," said Brad Rettig, who is the lead instructor for Rural Metro's fire academy. "The Division of Forestry comes in to help us with those. In the past when that happens, it's a stranger meeting a stranger. Now, we're going to work together all the time, so when they show up for one of those fires, we know that face. We know that person. I believe that will reduce the amount of acreage that will burn."

Future fire fighters go through 8 weeks of training.

"We have to be very unified with this," said Bowers. "Working together is the biggest part."

"The community will be much much safer with all of us working together," said Rettig.

Bowers is a paramedic for Rural Metro. In about a month, he'll be taking on an extra role as a fire fighter.

"It's my chance to help other people," said Bowers. "It's basically why I went to the paramedic program. I knew I can help them."

The last day of class for the academy is June 14th.

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