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Palm Beach County elected officials become firefighters for the day

Commissioner Maria Marino: 'You really can’t appreciate what they do until you are actually doing it'
Firefighter for a day in Palm Beach County
Posted at 1:45 PM, Feb 11, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-11 18:23:40-05

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — Palm Beach County Fire Rescue invited elected officials and media in the county to be firefighters for a day. This was the second time the county hosted this type of event as officials said COVID derailed past sessions.

“We felt that it was really important,” Tara Cardoso, PBCFR spokesperson, said. “If you’re better equipped at knowing what it takes, what the gear takes, what the equipment takes, the kind of power it takes to get the job done and see it firsthand, then when you’re posed with questions or decisions you have to make, you’re going to be much better educated and able to make decisions.”

The event at PBFR headquarters at Florida's Turnpike and Southern Boulevard, provides local leaders a small glimpse of what firefighters do every day with hands-on drills. More than 20 officials learned how to quickly put on gear, hose down a fire, work with extrication equipment on junk cars, and conduct a search and rescue mission.

“The industry has changed,” Cardoso said. “We are doing so much more now than we ever have before. We are an all-hazards department. It’s not just fire, medical and car accidents. It’s everything you can imagine, and we want to make sure they understand that too.”

Each exercise was under the controlled supervision of professional firefighters. This program was created to give people hands-on experiences to better understand what happens during emergency situations.

For Palm Beach County Commissioner Maria Marino, this was unlike anything she ever expected.

“You really can’t appreciate what they do until you are actually doing it,” Marino said. “Takeaways are, they need to have the right gear, they need to have the right equipment, they need to have the right technology.”

State Rep. Jervonte Edmonds called it a life-changing experience.

“What I thought about firefighters was coming out of movies and cinemas,” Edmonds said. “These people put their lives at risk day in and day out.”

He said he plans to take what he learned to the state level.

“I want to go to Tallahassee and advocate for better equipment, make sure that they can retire at a fair age and just anything related to their health causes,” Edmonds said. “I want to make sure that we support them. Again, they go in and save lives every single day. That’s their job.”

Edmonds said while it may look easy, he gained a newfound appreciation for these brave men and women.