The Lexington Division of Fire graduated 14 firefighters Friday after the completion of the department's Company Officers Course.
The course, which is in its second year, was started by lieutenants and captains that recognized a need for education aimed at helping newly promoted lieutenants be more successful in their transition from firefighters.
"We're not just taking guys who are firefighters and handing them a badge," said Maj. Maria Roberts, a training officer. "We want to prepare them as leaders. We want to make sure that they are prepared tactically and sound technically. We wanted to make sure their basics were strong when it came to hands-on skills."
Firefighters worked four 10-hour days during the four-week course. During that time, they learned how to write fire reports and run hoses and ladder operations. The course also gave them training in leadership development, communication skills, and intensive training in fire ground tactics.
Out of the 14 firefighters, 11 were from Lexington and three were from Georgetown.
Todd Monroe, a Georgetown fire captain who participated in the course, said the program takes "the learning curve out" and gives "you the building blocks you need in this class, so when you get assigned to that truck or fire engine you're better prepared."
Monroe said Georgetown plans to establish a similar class as a prerequisite for firefighters who hope to be a captain.
Being a firefighter runs deep in the bloodlines of Shannon Poynter. His father was a volunteer firefighter years ago and his father-in-law was a Lexington firefighter.
"The program is hard work, but it's worth it in the end," said Poynter, who's two weeks shy of his 11th year with the department. "When I get back I hope to just bring more expertise to those who are stationed with me."
Poynter hopes to be promoted to lieutenant in the next few months.
"I wouldn't trade my job for anything," he said. "When I leave my family and kids at home, I'm with my firefighter family; I have two families."
Justin Madden: (859) 231-3197. Twitter: @HLpublicsafety