LEE COUNTY, Fl. - Some Lee County firefighters are now trained law enforcement officers. They graduated from the Southwest Florida Public Service Academy Thursday night.
This law enforcement training opens up opportunities within their field like working for the state fire marshal's office. But it also helps them to better work alongside other agencies while responding to calls.
A fire engine's siren is the kind of siren Thad Stevens has grown to know. He's been a fire fighter with Estero Fire and Rescue for the past 12 years, but after Thursday, he's adding even more training to his list.
"We kind of coined a phrase called 'triple threat,' because a lot of us a paramedics, firefighters and now we're going to be law enforcement officers," Stevens says.
Stevens was one of 11 fire fighters and EMS workers who graduated from the Southwest Florida Public Service Academy's Law Enforcement class. For the past eight months, those emergency responders have learned how to use firearms, defensive tactics and gone through scenarios that an officer or deputy responds to all to better prepare them out in the field.
"There's a lot of instances where you have to traffic control or you're the first on scene and as a firefighter, sometimes the law enforcement isn't there yet so it's just nice to have a good understanding of what they are expecting when they get on scene," says Jeremy Louzao.
"We do run calls as far as vehicle accidents and deaths on the scenes and we can sit there and have a better idea on how to preserve evidence," Stevens adds.
This 'triple threat' graduation class is the first to come out this academy and Stevens says it won't be the last.
"This may realistically be the future of public safety... the amount of things that we've seen since 9-11, the better training you have the better prepared you're going to be," he adds.