LRFD holds 3rd annual Citizens Fire Academy

LITTLE ROCK (KATV) - Little Rock fire calls are up by the hundreds this year but Thursday local fire departments suited up residents, giving them a glimpse of what it takes to fight a blaze.

Dozens of residents participated in the Little Rock Fire Department's 3rd annual Citizens Fire Academy and got hands-on training from the city's finest.

It's not often you get to see a blaze through the eyes of a firefighter, but with the Citizens Fire Academy one lucky group got that chance. They saw their local firemen put out a blaze and save a dummy's life.

It's exactly what Ron Hampton Did this time last year. His passion started when his grandmother's house burned down 20 years ago.

"The fire just cleaned the house out, but those firefighters are the ones that brought out pictures of my grandfather and my grandmother," said Hampton.

He put that passion into action this year as he trains to be a Little Rock firefighter.

"It was a total loss and how that affected the family and really everybody involved it's always been a passion of mine since then," he said.

But the fire academy does more than just find recruits, it teaches residents everything from awareness to prevention. For some the reason to go through the course is deeper though.

"I just wanted to be able to communicate with him get a better understanding of what he'll be doing for the rest of his life," said Betty Hampton, Ron's wife.

Hampton's wife, who is six months pregnant, is taking a few classes to be able to better understand what her husband will be doing.

"I'm going to be very proud of him and I know that he'll work hard to bring safety and just make the community that much safer," she said.

But organizers say the academy isn't just about suiting up and putting out blazes it's about seeing first-hand what these men and women risk to put out a fire.

"How much more there is to the profession than spraying water on the fire or pulling a cat out of a tree," said Ron.

And for this future firefighter it's also about getting to know a different kind of hero.

"We grow up, we watch batman and superman and this is the closest thing that a kid is going to get to see to that," he said.

Fire calls increased from about 17,200 to just over 17,600 this time last year.