Fire academy recruits participate in "final burn"

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by Laura Rodriguez

The Milwaukee Fire Department only accepted 33 recruits this year. Assistant Chief Gerald Washington says there is a waiting list of approximately 1,200 people.

Today only 27 recruits remain and they have to prove they're fit for the job.

"It's not an emergency situation, it's a very relaxed atmosphere for individuals," said Assistant Chief Gerald Washington with the Milwaukee Fire Department.

Maybe relaxing for an experienced Assistant Fire Chief, but that's not the case for some recruits who have to put their skills to the test.

"I haven't been able to sleep because I've been so excited about the final burn," said Andrew O'Malley, a Milwaukee Fire Department recruit.

O'Malley is one of 27 fire academy recruits participating in the final burn, which is the final exam for the14 week training program.

"Upon successful completion of this test they will be put out on the field," said Washington.

"I was a teacher before this, I've wanted to be a firefighter since I was 12," said O'Malley.

The final burn is done inside a vacant home owned by the City of Milwaukee, but choosing the home is also a process.

"It's actually walking through, and doing safety checks, making sure there is enough water supply," said Washington.

Just like any other exam, the recruits need to pass to get to the next level.

"If someone isn't successful, they would not graduate from the recruit class," said Washington.

If the recruits pass the test and graduate, their first day on the job will be March 17th.

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