Join in: Lights. Sirens. Saving lives.

Participants in the Citizens Fire Academy get to do it all.

Curious what it’s like to be a firefighter, but not sure where to begin? Welcome to Mt. Lebanon’s Citizens Fire Academy.

“It’s a great place to ignite your passion,” said Nick Sohyda, son of Mt. Lebanon’s fire chief.

The annual public education class gives residents an up close and personal look at how the Mt. Lebanon Fire Department operates.

Climbing ladders. Rescuing people. It’s all a part of the class.

The 8-week course covers topics like fire prevention, engine and truck company operations and rescue techniques. It wraps up with a burn day at Washington Fire Academy on November 5 and a recognition dinner the following week.

Lt. Joe Gavita, with Mt. Lebanon’s Technical Rescue Team, led the water rescue portion of the technical rescue class on Wednesday, October 19, while Lt. Josh Sadowy demonstrated rope rescue to a group of volunteers.

Fifteen students are taking the class this year.

Ed Modaro, Longuevue Drive, is one of them. He has an interest in what fire departments do and how they do it.

“If you have any interest in the fire department, it’s a great place to get hands-on experience. The class is very professional and informative,” he said.

Fire Chief Nicholas Sohyda said the class is a good way to educate the public on fire safety and make them ambassadors in the community.  It’s also a successful recruitment tool.

“There’s a lot of potential in this class,” he added. Since 2004, 38 Citizens Fire Academy graduates have joined the department.

They even learn how to break through doors during an emergency.

Sophie Engel, Academy Avenue, gives the class a 10 out of 10 rating. “I would recommend doing it,” she said.

The annual Citizens Fire Academy is free of charge and open to all Mt. Lebanon residents and business owners age 18 and older. Be sure to check back next fall for a chance to participate.

But, if you’re interested in learning more about the Mt. Lebanon Fire Department, you don’t have to wait for next year’s Citizens Fire Academy. Fill out a form on their department’s website. All they need is your name, phone number and email address and they will reach out to you. Training for the department’s next round of volunteers starts in January.