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Fire Academy ignites sense of purpose among fire fighters

Three Crook County fire fighters recently returned from intensive training held back east - one got to meet the president
Recently, three fire fighters from the Prineville Fire Department were chosen to attend the National Fire Academy (NFA), and one even got to shake hands with the president of the United States.
   Although anyone in fire service, red cross or emergency management organizations is eligible to apply, only 10 percent are actually chosen to attend the academy, which is located in Emmetsburg, Maryland.
   The National Fire Academy was created out of the Federal Fire Prevention and Control act of 1974. Since then, it is estimated that over 1,400,000 students have received training at the NFA. The main goal of the academy is to increase fire prevention.
   The three fire fighters chosen from Prineville were Steve Hurt Engineer and EMT Basic, Lt. Mike Fine EMT Paramedic and Capt. John Hite EMT Paramedic.
   Hite indicated that he has attended the NFA three time previously and is currently an alumni member.
   This was Fine's first time attending the academy as well as Hurt's. Each took part in classes that pertained to their particular positions at the fire department. Hurt said that the NFA considers the person's position to determine if they qualify for the classes offered at the academy.
   According to Fine there were fire fighters from just about everywhere including Guam, and of all ranks attending the event. Participants included chemical specialists, fire chiefs of large departments, and even beginning fire fighters.
   The sense of camaraderie among those who attend is one aspect of the academy that everyone seems to appreciate. "Everywhere you go, everyone is your friend... They are all willing to share what they know, and are eager to hear what you know," said Hurt, "I learned a lot of regulations, but sometimes you learn more from the fire fighters in the pub than you do in the actual classroom."
   Although each firefighter attended different classes, Mike Fine went to a six day class concerning Hazardous Material Incident Management.
   "I learned a lot back there to bring back to the department," he said.
   Fine was among the few that got to personally meet the president of the United States, shake his hand, and ask him a question.
   Fine said his question to Bush was regarding budget issues for fire prevention, and he was given a fairly typical political answer, but that didn't seem to bother this fire fighter. "He seemed like just a normal person, with lots of secret service," Fine said.