They made it. They started with 30+ other recruits. In the end, they were two of 11 to graduate and make it all the way through.
Standing in Auburn City Hall on Dec. 18 for their swearing-in ceremony, Cody LaRowe and Will Ternet—graduates of the Auburn Fire Department Volunteer Firefighter Class of 2018—were proud, relieved and ready to work.
Cody’s dad, AFD Captain Chip LaRowe, pinned the AFD badge on his son. “I loved that,” Cody says. “It was great to have all the firefighters from my dad’s shift there, supporting both of us.” His fiancé, newborn daughter and mother were also there to support him.
Captain LaRowe also pinned the badge on Will, whom he got to know well through the training process. “It was nice to be recognized for all our work to get to this point,” says Will. “I had family and coworkers there. That was nice having everyone rally behind us.”
Training Leads to Preparedness
The six-month training—four-hour classes twice a week, Saturday hands-on skill sessions and lots of studying in between—was more difficult than either man initially imagined.
“I’m glad to be done,” laughs Cody. “It’s a huge relief. And now I’m ready. I’ll be on call every chance I get.”
He got his chance quickly. His first call was the day after his swearing in. When Cody arrived on the scene of the garage fire, he got his gear on, grabbed an air pack and waited to go in with his group.
“I definitely felt prepared after all the training,” he says. “And this first call was a great learning experience.”
That’s the thing about Cody—he’s always looking to learn. As far as he’s concerned, his firefighting training is far from over. Next up: becoming trained as an EMT.
Like Cody, Will plans to continue his training. He’s interested in taking Emergency Medical Responder classes since nearly 50% of the AFD’s calls are medical-related. Additionally, Will wants to be able to drive AFD trucks so he is considering operator/driver courses.
Challenges Bring Greater Purpose
Whatever is next, both men feel anything is possible.
“Going through the volunteer firefighter training absolutely changed me,” says Will. “I had to overcome a fear of heights. I look back now and can’t believe what I’ve done. I run into a burning building, not out. I climb four stories on a ladder and climb through a window. I would have never done those things a year ago.”
These accomplishments give him additional purpose now, he says. “I’m challenged to overcome, keep moving and not be complacent,” he shares.
Cody agrees: “This remains one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. But it was worth it. It’s been a challenging but very rewarding experience.”