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Citizens feel the heat at Johns Creek fire academy
Fire academy
The Johns Creek Citizens Fire Academy prepares residents for emergencies they may face. - photo by For the FCN

Ever wanted to know what happens behind the scenes when a fire gets out of control and someone calls 911?

This spring, residents of Johns Creek can get an up close and personal look at what it takes to be a firefighter, and brush up on ways to improve their fire safety in everyday life at the Johns Creek Citizens Fire Academy. 

The academy will meet eight times between February and May, and will cover equipment and fire prevention, CPR demonstrations and fire investigation techniques, and practical emergency medical exercises and fire ground training. 

Anyone interested in being part of the program will need to fill out an application with the Johns Creek Fire Department and pass a criminal background check. 

According to Lt. Chris Wall, Deputy Fire Marshal for the City of Johns Creek and director of the Citizens Fire Academy, this fourth year of the program will be “streamlined” and will focus on preparing citizens for emergencies in an entertaining way. 

“We take them through all the different components of the fire department and show them that firefighting is just one small part of what we do,” Wall said. 

Participants in the program will be shown how to use various pieces of firefighting and medical equipment like the Jaws of Life, and are eventually suited up in fire protective gear and put into a live fire scenario. 

“We let them feel some heat and see what it’s like to be in the situation. Let them see what their tax dollars are going for,” he said.  

But Wall said that there is a larger reason for the academy that goes beyond curiosity. 

“We want to give people the skills they need so they can respond effectively to situations that they face,” he said. 

Wall said that he uses the annual academy to recruit for a larger, more serious training program called HEAT (Hometown Emergency Action Team), that has communities to work together to manage emergency situations. Currently the department has two HEAT teams, one at the St. Ives Country Club in Johns Creek and one formed last year in the Medlock Bridge subdivision. 

Wall hopes that in the future there will be more. 

“Years down the line yes, it’d be optimal to have a HEAT team in each subdivision,” he said. 

Wall said that the HEAT teams are trained more seriously to manage situations in their communities and that by giving citizens emergency skills they can help themselves when situations occur.