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Omaha Fire Academy adapts to new challenges

OMAHA, Nebraska (Nebraska) – 60 seconds to put on personal protective equipment. This is what they need to stay safe while helping others do the same.

Battalion Commander Kobi Werner oversees the Omaha Fire Academy.

“Right now, we are still in the crawling stage, but we are starting to move into the walking stage,” Werner said.

32 candidates are preparing to become the next Omaha firefighters. Nine others took to the streets earlier this year because they had received preliminary training. This 13 week experience is for those who need to be taught a little more.

Werner says a few things about training have changed since he started.

“Training academies many years ago, when many people already had these skills already ingrained in them… “I know how to work with an instrument. I can swing an axe. I can drive a chainsaw. I can operate a circular saw. These skills, more and more people come to us without these skills. Our academies need more time,” he said.

Werner said it was a generational trend. Recently, recruitment applications for the department’s staff have been failing.

“Usually we have applications from 2,000 people. This go-around was less than a thousand. So the number is smaller, but the requirements are still there,” he said.

Despite recruiting trends, Werner said he still feels confident about firefighters coming out of the Omaha fire academy.

“We make sure that before they leave this fire academy, they are 100% ready to go. They can go outside and work as firefighters on the first day,” he said.

This new firefighter class is graduating on April 21st. Werner told 6 News that you can expect them at work the very next day.

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