HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The soon to be newest members of the Hattiesburg Fire Department are wrapping up their training in the academy.
If the remaining nine make it through the class, that will bring a bump in numbers for the department, and help with manpower issues.
"They've been through the most challenging fire academy in the state of Mississippi without a doubt, 14 weeks as opposed to the state fire academy seven weeks, it's very physical, very demanding, also academically demanding," HFD Training Instructor Barry Collins said.
The department currently has 82 men on the roster and is slotted for 120, this nine would put them at 91, still low, but Chief Paul Presley said these nine would help.
"Well that's three extra guys a shift, so that's another guy on a truck, so that's going to help a lot just with manpower," Presley said. "That's nine guys we've got that are extremely dedicated, we started out with 15 and this is nine strong firefighters, that is exactly what we need."
The recruits have one last test, and are brushing up on class work skills in their final week.
"It's that light at the end of the tunnel you see and it's just good to know that it's almost over," recruit Lance Spiers said.
"They've studied every aspect of firefighting and emergency response from fire suppression to vehicle extrication, now hazmat, they've been to Jackson four times already for state level testing," Collins said.
The academy class is set to graduate the third week of February.