LaGRANGE, Ga. (WRBL) – The LaGrange Fire Department held their first annual appreciation day for all the employees in the department. Chief John Brant, the Fire Chief of the LaGrange Fire Department, organized the event as a way to celebrate the camaraderie and hard work in the department.

“We wanted to show our appreciation as command staff to our employees. These ladies and gentlemen do an amazing job throughout the year for our citizens. Countless hours of community involvement, running calls, so dedicated to our community so we wanted to show our appreciation,” said Chief Brant. 

All the firefighters from the department gather throughout the week to participate in training competitions and receive a free lunch that is paid for by the department. Those who win the training competitions receive another free lunch later in the year. 

The competitions consisted of fixing a broken hose and utilizing it as quickly as possible. Members of a specific fire station have to compete against other stations and have to work together to locate the rip in the hose and clamp it. Then, they must connect a second hose and begin to use it as if there were a real fire. 

There was a second competition called “bucket brigade” and the firefighters had to race to locate a water source, fill buckets of water, and race back to put out the simulated fire.

Throughout the appreciation days during the week, the fire department does not participate in any training or public education and only runs emergency calls. 

Lt. Rob Vael is a Company Officer on Engine 4 and has been a firefighter for 15 years. He said it was refreshing to have healthy competition and also practice skills. He believes it keeps morale high in the department. 

“It’s good because it kind of gives us an opportunity to see how everyone can piece together and how everyone works together especially for the newer guys. We’re all on the same shift but we don’t work at the same station. When we come together in a training event it gives some of us senior leadership or officers an idea to kind of know where that other younger firefighter is at in his physicality and his skills,” said Lt. Vael.