The firefighter rookie challenge determines flame-outing potential

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In reminiscence of childhood days spent daydreaming about being a hero, collegiate students may find themselves considering the career path of becoming a firefighter.

Although the rewards of saving lives are limitless, the physical toll of everyday tasks firefighters undergo frequently surprises students of the Recruit Candidate Academy (RCA) at UVU.

To combat this problem, Emergency Services advisor Mary Ellis utilized her military experience to give students a better idea of what it takes to be a firefighter.

“Prior to being sent to boot camp,” Ellis said,  “I went to a training session that was designed to prepare recruits for the challenges of boot camp. After attending, I felt more confident and assured. I thought of this training, and it helped me realize that a similar program would help rookie firefighters as well.”

The firefighter rookie challenge will take place at the Emergency Services Building on September 28th from 5:30-10 p.m. Students will have the chance to take the same physical fitness test that students who enter the RCA take prior to their admission.

The physical test will evaluate the students’ aerobic, flexibility, and strength capabilities. The RCA stresses the importance of arms, shoulders, and upper back strength as all are necessary in the job field.

“It is a very physical challenge,” Administrator Donna Cotterell said. “Participants will get their waist measured and have a weigh in.  They will do a 1.5 mile run and see how many push-ups, pull-ups, and sit-ups they can do.  We’ll talk about their physical abilities and tell them if they would qualify for the RCA.”

The rookie challenge will teach students how to equip and utilize an oxygen tank, the proper ways to take a uniform on and off, and how to safely use ladders and hoses. There will also be an extensive search-and-rescue exercise that will take place in a specially designed “burn building.”


The burn building is made out of old shipping containers and simulates what it’s like inside a burning building filled with smoke. Students will enter the building with a uniform and oxygen in order to search through the smoke for a dummy to practice real life-saving techniques.

“I recommend the rookie challenge to anyone that is considering the fire academy or anyone that is interested in a good fun work out,” Josh Swenson, an RCA rookie said. “The experience gave me an understanding of the protective equipment used in the RCA, as well as the demanding physical fitness firefighters engage in.”

The challenge also offers students the opportunity to socialize with professors before entering the RCA. The rookie challenge is a learning environment so questions are welcome and can help students develop a better understanding of the RCA.

“We’ve had students who underwent the rookie program last year return to us and say they appreciated the chance to see firsthand what it’s like,” Cotterell said. “Now those students are in the RCA and have an upper hand against the students who [don’t] know what to expect.”

The firefighter rookie challenge may be physically demanding, but it promises students a challenging workout and the chance to see what firefighters can really achieve. Students who endure the challenge will find the rewards of accomplishment greater than the demands of the effort.

“As I’ve told rookies before, life begins where your comfort zone ends. It will show you what you’re made of and push you past your limitations,” said Ellis.

Students interested in the challenge can register online for a fee of $30 by clicking here.

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