GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Becoming a firefighter is hard work, and it's a career path Garret Raskett chose even after getting a college degree.
"For me, it was fun while it lasted, but I wanted to do something more hands on, more outdoor activity wise," said Raskett.
After teaching school for a year, Raskett decided teaching wasn't his thing, but he isn't the only recruit in the training class of 1402 with a college degree.
"My godfather was a firefighter, and I thought it might be a cool thing to pursue. After talking to him, I realized that it was something I wanted to give a shot," said Riley Saucier.
Saucier went to college and majored in history but decided to take a different route and do something to help the community.
"I definitely expected a challenge, and I expected to be given expert level training. Chief Holliman and his instruction staff have been absolutely thorough in everything we've done," said Saucier.
The nine weeks of training and conditioning is to prepare their bodies to carry 50 pounds of gear and the air pack when fighting a fire. The recruits train at the Pass Road station using Conex boxes as mock buildings.
Once a year, the veteran firefighters participate in training drills to keep their skills sharp.
"It's an annual skill that we do, require two hours of night training every year. Tonight is no exception," said Chief of Training Tim Holliman.
The training included putting out a car fire and rescuing two dummies from the adjacent building.
In the near future, Gulfport plans to expand its training facility. The plan is to build a tower using Conex boxes on its new 50 by 80 foot concrete slab to create a better facility for the recruits to train.