Fire Department Looking for A Few Good (Arlington) Men and Women
By Office of Communication
Posted on February 28, 2012, February 28, 2012

Brandon Lokey was a college graduate and distinguished Marine with a pair of tours in Iraq and Afghanistan but his dream job as an Arlington fire fighter always hovered just beyond his reach due to one necessity he lacked: an EMS certification.

Since the Arlington Fire Department has now tabled the emergency medical service requirement - fire recruits can now obtain the certification while training - it opened a whole new door for Lokey, and an even sizable opportunity for the department.

As a number of fire fighters begin to reach retirement age, AFD is in the process of searching for a few good men and women to join its ranks.

While the current 16-week Fire Academy numbers 21 individuals, the next class selected around May will include 25 to 30 recruits - with the hope that most of those recruits are homegrown.

To help increase the pool of quality candidates while reflecting Arlington's diverse population, Battalion Chief Rodney Smith is executing a recruitment strategy to focus on people who already live here.

"We used to make a lot of recruitment trips all over the state looking for firefighters, but what we found is that those individuals are right here in our back yard," Smith said.

AFD recruiters will attend job fairs and college fairs, utilize social media and rely on good old-fashioned word of mouth to up the department's profile among those who don't the process of becoming a firefighter.

Last fall AFD partnered with Arlington ISD to launch AISD High School Fire Academy, a two-year course of classroom and field training to prepare students for fire service careers. Well over 200 students have already shown interest in being a part of next year's class.

"It's all about planting the seed," said Smith. "I know programs like this sometimes get people who say those kids can't be that serous right now. One of the kids in our academy right now is from a Boys & Girls club program that is similar to our program. Programs like this, they do bear fruit."

Potential recruits must pass various testing levels to get into the academy, including written and physical firefighting simulation-based agility tests, and one-on-one interviews.

Academy selectees receive classroom instruction, manipulative and practical skills training in fire ground work, and strength training. Information is at

"The thing about the fire service is that for most people who enter, it becomes a lifelong career for them," Smith said. "We don't have much turnover rate at all outside of retirement. If someone is looking for something long term, this is a perfect occupation to have."

Smith would get no argument from Lokey, who was voted president of this academy class by his peers.

"I love this. It's awesome," Lokey said after taking a breather from a training exercise of removing water hoses from a fire engine. "I'm having more fun than a grown man should be allowed to have."

NBC 5 report The Arlington Fire Department honored 12 year-old Steven Tarver with a Lifesaving Award. On the evening of March 19, 2012 Steven and his stepmother, Deana Tarver, were watching television when lightning struck their home resulting in a fire. While his mother was in a panic, Steven quickly jumped into action. Remembering what he learned in a Fire Department public safety class given at school, he began getting everyone out of the house including the pets. Steven is credited with assisting his mother in the safe evacuation of their home. Read more.

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