Edmond's newest firefighters have completed their academy and are serving local residents, putting what they learned into action.

The nine rookie firefighters emerged from a pool of more than 400 applicants, and the hiring process took four months to complete, said Jon Neely, the Edmond Fire Department's chief training officer.

The 21-week academy consisted of about 35 percent classroom time and 65 percent hands-on skills training. The time commitment averaged out to more than 800 hours of training per individual, Neely said.

Their days began at 6:45 a.m. with a workout, consisting of runs anywhere from 1.5 miles up to 3.75 miles, Neely said. After the run they would either do a weight workout or a cross-fit workout. Class or skills training would begin normally at 8 a.m. and last to at least 4 p.m., normally later.

Neely said the recruits took more than 40 written exams during the academy, and they were evaluated daily by their lead instructor.

"The vast majority of their time was spent working on skills that related to either firefighting, rescue or EMS, though there were a few specialty classes thrown in like their community service day," Neely said.

Edmond's newest firefighters

John Basgall, 23, of Oklahoma City, is beginning his first job as a firefighter. Basgall said getting to be a firefighter was a lifelong goal. Working for a department with the reputation for taking care of its firefighters and commitment to its community made the job offer a dream come true, he said.

Kyle Begley, 22, of Midwest City, is beginning his first firefighter job. Begley has an associate degree in liberal studies from Rose State College. Begley said so far the experience has been "unreal," especially working for his lieutenant.

Jesse Benne, 26, of Edmond, wanted to be able to serve people in a job with accompanying personal rewards. Benne previously completed emergency medical technician basics. He said he has been catching up on sleep, improving his firefighting skills and studying for an upcoming test.

Chris Channel, 26, of Crescent, previously was a firefighter in Crescent for five years. Channel is pursuing a nursing degree. He said getting hired "felt great."

Cory Charmasson, of El Reno, served two years as a volunteer firefighter in Republic, Mo. Charmasson has a bachelor of science in athletic training degree from Oklahoma State University. "I felt a great sense of relief and accomplishment," he said about being hired and completing the training.

Blake Fricke, 30, of Edmond, worked for the Woodward Fire Department for one and a half years. Fricke has completed two years of college work. He said with family here, serving in his hometown was just what he wanted. He said being hired by an agency with such a great reputation was a great accomplishment.

Jason McKinney, 28, of Yukon, previously was a firefighter in the Yukon Fire Department. McKinney said being hired was the first big step, completing the academy the second. He has an associate degree in fire prevention.

Pat Olson, 29, of Harrah, is beginning his first firefighter job. Olson, originally from Illinois, has a four-year degree from the University of Illinois. He is a member of the Army Reserve.

Steven Rakett, 25, of Yukon, likes the aspect of being part of a brotherhood and the camaraderie that comes from spending time with other firefighters. Rakett has an English literature degree from the University of Nebraska at Kearney. He said he loves working in Edmond, a great community to serve.

marks@edmondsun.com | 341-2121, ext. 102

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