Some of the more than two dozen students at the Penobscot County Fire Academy taking place in Bangor are recent high school graduates. Now they're in a different kind of classroom.
"[From] learning from how to put your gear to how to climb a ladder to how to cut cars up to get people out," said Chad Bean, an academy official and Orrington's assistant fire chief.
The two weeks of extensive and intensive training is supposed to prepare them to pass the Maine firefighter certification test.
"Everything we do is used at some point in our career. So, I think it's been good to have in the back of our hat, even if it's a skill that's not used every day," Orrington firefighter Jamie Seymour said.
With the combined weight of the coat, pants and gear, a firefighter carries an extra 100 pounds when they step into action.
"It's reasonable conditions because you never know what you're going to get at a fire. And you can't choose those cool, breezy days to go fight a fire," Old Town firefighter Meredith Seymour said.
For the past several years, volunteer fire departments have had an increasingly difficult time recruiting and retaining firefighters.
The students learn the art of fighting fires, from raising ladders to finding their way through a smoke-filled building and everything in between.
The academy provides an opportunity for novice firefighters to learn skills, for intermediate firefighters to hone their skills, and for experienced firefighters to share their skills.