BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) — The Beckley Fire Department is ready to welcome a new batch of firefighters. Three new faces are getting ready to join the force, two have already finished training.
One of the new probationary firefighters is Derrick Bandy, the first African American firefighter at the department in decades.
“It means a lot for the community I think like say the community I’m from to be able to see somebody of Africa American descent to be represented by the city,” Bandy said.
Training lasts around three months. It’s around 400 hours with numerous training classes. A few of the classes include Firefighter 1, Firefighter 2, Hazmat, and EMT just to name a few. Aaron Halstead is a firefighter with the Beckley Fire Department. He said they must keep up on certifications while on the force.
“We get a call the citizens of Beckley rely on us heavily so it’s very important to have all our certifications and everything up to date,” Halstead said.
Firefighters told 59News this is something they have wanted to do for most of their lives. Now, they get to live out their dream while serving their community. Bandy said he remembers a time when he was younger that made him want to become a firefighter.
“I was at my grandmothers house and the house next door caught on fire and I saw the way the fire department responded and it just inspired me to want to do it,” Bandy said.
The new recruits will finish training around February 19th.