Natchitoches firefighters climb stairs in honor of lives lost on September 11

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September 11 marked the start of week 2 at the Natchitoches Fire Department Firefighting Academy. Class began Aug. 28 and will run weekly for a total of 14 weeks from 8am-5pm, Tuesday-Thursday. The class is located on the Natchitoches campus of the Central Louisiana Technical Community College where the Natchitoches Fire Department Training Center is located.

Michael Sesvold serves as the lead instructor and director of the program. He is assisted by various instructors including Chief of Fire Prevention Kory Leo, NFD Chief Wynn, and Shift C Captain Josh Pulley. Additionally every member of NFD eventually plays a role in the success of the program by assisting with instruction, live drills, providing resources, etc.

Training Officers Dillon Broadway and Brent Dupree manage the physical training program during the course. There are three NFD Recruits, one Fire District 4 Recruit and one Fire District 6 Recruit for a total of five Recruits attending the class. The class consists of lecture, physical training, and practical skills training to prepare each recruit to successfully become a Firefighter.

With the leading cause of line-of-duty deaths in the U.S. Fire Service being heart attack and stroke, this course places a heavy emphasis on physical health and fitness. In honor of September 11, instructors organized a memorial stair climb for the morning physical training to honor the 343 firefighters who lost their lives 17 years ago. While being reverent to the thousands of other lives lost that day the group focused its attention on the brave firefighters who scaled the towers through various stair wells, while pointing surviving victims to safety.

“Firefighting is a calling, not just a job,” said Sesvold. “This is what we stressed to each recruit as we scaled the endless rows of bleachers at NSU’s Turpin stadium. We stressed the example set by the fallen 343 Firefighters as they courageously continued up as countless victims retreated down the stairs. It was extremely challenging for each Recruit and Officer who walked beside them as well as personally rewarding to reach the end of what was the equivalent of 110 stories of stairs. We walked in their honor and made a statement to ourselves that this is what we were made to do.”

Each Recruit was given chance after chance to quit, yet they pressed on. They found victory over their weaknesses and limitations and pressed forward as a team to complete the task that was ahead. Sesvold said he hopes that sharing this story will encourage anyone to pursue his or her dreams even if it looks like they are “110 stories away.” Find your purpose, answer your calling, and know that sometimes your greatest enemy rests right between your ears.

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