I learned that I thought that I only knew a lot, but that what I had learned was only a taste of what Firefighting has to offer a person. I learned things about myself that I did not think were achievable at the ripe old age of 35 when I attended the class. It was a good eye opener and self test of achieving things that one wants something bad enough, it can happen as one persists and never accepts defeat or quits. FIDO the whole way to reach ones goal.
Smoke Diver's changed my life both personally and professionally. The program has a misconception of having a "boot camp" theme and that it solely exists to beat up on people. Quite the opposite is true.
The class stays on the cutting edge of tactics, equipment and training to meet the needs of todays firefighting. But more than that, it teaches you about yourself. No matter how good of a fireman you are, there will be at least one time in the class when you will meet what you thought were your personal limitations. The best thing about the class for me was being able to surpass those limitations. Never quit, the door (or ladder for me) could only be three or four feet away.
The instructors are top notch. They take their own personal time away from their departments to come down and help out in any way they can. It is truly unique the amount of dedication these guys have to the program and the students who come down.
I highly recommend this program to anyone who has a desire to become the best and most complete fireman they can become.
The GA SMOKE DIVER program is one of a kind. It challenges you in so many different ways both physical and mental. It is the best training I have had in my five years of service. It taught me allot about myself, when my body was tired and aching I learned that you always have a little more to give. Things I have done in the past and had no problems with tried me because I had never done them when I was past the point of exhaustion. I know this will help me in my career because I know what I have done in the program has prepared me for almost anything. The perfect example of this is the mill fire we had that lasted for almost 17 hours, my gear was wet as it was many days at GSD but I remember Smoke Daddy saying now you know how it feels to work in wet gear all day. I was tired but I knew from the training that I had received at GSD that I had could continue with the operations. It was a life changing experience. I would recommend everyone make an attempt, you will learn something about yourself.
What did I learn from Smoke Divers class 36 …? I learned what the good word was, what a Wally head is, and what a Cod is. I did not do any thing that I hadn’t done before. I have had Pool Drills (firefighter drowned proofing) before but not after a full day of unrelenting heat. I have done the Denver Drill but when you’re the first guy in the window and you can’t remember if this is the fifth or sixth time to complete it sense you put your mask on. I have bailed out of a training tower more times than I can count but I had never looked at the ladder and wondered if there was a easier way to clime up it. The class started as a challenge of my mental and physical abilities. I guess that it turn into a class that shaped and hardened the core values I already had. What I got out of the class was not a new way of doing any thing. But an understanding of how I will react when I have to reach for every last bit of strength in my body to crawl six more feet to the door. All firefighters should at lest attempted the class. Unless you are a biscuit infested fireman that comes to work to complain all day while watching TV (in that case you should get off my rig and become a cop).
Every time I go back to help out, I don’t know how to explain it but being around that many brothers that take there job for what it is, a life stile not a job. It is like getting a fresh breath of air.
I have never attended the georgia program but i am a mississippi smoke diver. Our smoke diver program was truely the most physically and mentally testing program i have ever had the pleasure to be apart of. I have said it before and will say it again i learned more about fire fighting and myself than i ever did in 1001. It prepared me more for the real world of fire fighting than 1001 could. It showed me i had more inside of me than i could have ever imagined. I had to prepare my body and they tested it working under heat and fatigue. They prepared my mind for working through fatigue, keeping my head in extreme conditions, paying attention to details and being able to listen and follow directions in that time of fatigue. The mind is a funny thing! Are you truely tired? Is that all i have to give? There is something to be said for mental strength as well as physical stamina. They helped me to realize that you truely must prepare both and they feed off each other. I obtained so much confidence in myself and my abilities. Being a smoke diver is a badge of honor and i feel that it is our responsability to protect our programs and our fellow firefighters by maintaining our high standards and instilling those standards in the brothers to follow. Their are good firefighters who are not smoke divers but i must say i always felt better with one on the hose line with me. Not to mention the honor that i felt when the guys on my department would tell new guys that ,"Josh is the one you want on the line with you. If i go down and it is possible he is coming." I say this to you. Is there any greater compliment? I will always treasure that and i hope that these guys coming behind us will fell that same honor. The goals were set. Will you measure up? My fellow smoke divers we did. I hope others will to.
I attended the Tennessee Smoke Diver class. My class actually was conducted with two instructors from Georgia Smoke Divers as guest instructors, Mr. Sorrells & Mr. Sanchez. This class was a mile stone in my fire service career. It has really taken my job to the next level...mentally and physically.
I worked as a fire service specialist for BioMarine Industries from 1980 to 1983. As a part of my duties I travelled the country lecturing on closed circuit SCBA and was able to participate in several Smokedivers courses. I completed the Florida, Mississippi and Washington County Pa. smokediver programs. I had the pleasure of observing the Georgia program years ago. Of all the training I attended in the fire service (30+ years), nothing built my confidence and prepared me better to be a competent interior firefighter. Smokedivers pushed my confidence and comfort level in an SCBA much farther than I would have without ther course. I highly recommend this course for any firefighter who wants to work comfortably in their SCBA.
Well looking back on many years, you remember many things. Bits, pieces, little here, little there......well with Georgia Smokedivers I remember everything. I can tell you what everyday held and how when the thoughts of your mind were trying to take you home, someone would yell "WHATS THE GOOD WORD". Your head would raise up, your sore muscles disappear(for a short while), and you would respond with the GOOD word. The only thing I knew for sure about that class was about the mile and a half run and pull ups.....everything was an unknown. But after the pain, sweat, blisters, and other things I went through. I finished the program and was handed a Black T-shirt, just a T-shirt you say? Well you can't buy it at Walmart..and even if you could...you would never understand...WHAT THE GOOD WORD IS........so after reading the other entries here...you ask what SMOKEDIVERS did for me?
It has saved my life many many times over....on the job and off.
The problem with stats for training is " YOU NEVER KNOW HOW MANY FIREFIGHTERS LIVES YOU MAY SAVE BY TRAINING THEM RIGHT, YOU CAN NOT TRACK THAT STAT, BUT YOU WILL KNOW IF ONE DIES."
Yes David it is Wednesday for many of us in the fire service today or maybe at home its a Wednesday somedays. So when your brother needs focus..let him vent..then just ask him WHAT THE GOOD WORD IS?
And just watch and see, you will know what SMOKEDIVERS did for him.......
And if you not sure....YES I AM A GEORGIA SMOKEDIVER !!!!!!!
The Smoke Diver program was a life changing experience that took my career as a fireman to the next level, just as it was for everyone else that has completed the course. I have to compare the program to my fathers death. Both events have made me the person that I am today. At age 19, I lost my father unexpectedly and had to GROW UP and be the man of the house, whether I was ready or not. Smoke Divers affected me in the same way. On Wednesday during the program, instead of growing up, I had to MAN UP. I found out exactly where my limitations are, both physically and mentally. I learned how to go as far as I needed to get the job done. When Adam Westbrook, GSD 658, handed me the T-Shirt at the end of those last steps, that was the icing on the cake. There is no other feeling like getting the shirt and sewing the rocker on your uniform. A Smoke Diver is not just an everyday usual fireman, but he is now an example that is held to a much higher standard. Because of these two experiences in my life, I have learned two lessons. 1) NEVER GIVE UP- you never know how much further it is to the door. 2) ALWAYS GIVE 110%- Nobody likes a sorry-a** that always settles for just getting by.
Georgia Smoke Diver #669
The Ga. Smoke Diver program is the most challenging thing ive ever done in life period. It took me to the edge and then way past. I was 39 and i thought in the best shape i could be, but i dont care how good of shape u think your in the program will break you down and make you dig deep for the will to keep going. Thats what sets you apart from becoming a Ga. Smoke Diver or not. It will take you to exaustion then scramble your brain with evoulutions. It will not only make u a better firefighter but it will also make you a better person. They will teach you to be first in life and to be the go to guy. You will leave with so much confidense and knowlege theres not anything you cant accomplish. I can write all day and if u havnt atleast tried to go you will not understand a word im saying. Just the friendship and that special bond that as Ga. Smoke Divers we all share was worth it a million times.My old friend Clark Waters Jr. told me a long time ago that theres nothing like it in the world when u go thru the ceremony at the end,and he was right. And if i know him hes got Heaven Smoke Divers class going.. This is for you old buddy thanks for helping me get thru.GSD 696
The Ga Smoke Diver class has been the single most informative,and challenging class I have ever attended. I went through with Class 39, and I reflect daily on the six days spent in the class. Every day was tailored to imprint a mental awarness that is essential in increasing the success of routine fire scenarios, and most importantly increase the odds of firefighter survival and the survival of those he intends to rescue, during times of extreme fatigue, or stress. I consider my time in Ga. Smoke Diver class 39 to be the best six days of my life. I say that because, I will never know how many times, in the future, I will make a dicision, based on my attention to detail and being aware of things, that used to go unnoticed,that will make the diference on going home to my family day in day out. The class from start to finish is perfect. It is one hundred percent realistic and flows seamlessly. I will do all that I can to help with keeping this program going and growing. Thanks to all the Ga. Smoke Divers who believe in it enough to pass it on to those who want know " THE GOOD WORD" Sincerely Rick Swales #715
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