AFD recruits 2 new local firefighters

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 20, 2014

If there is a fire in Andalusia, two new recruits are ready and able to help put it out.

Tom Wright and Devaris Skanes of the Andalusia Fire Department graduated from the Alabama Fire College training center in Dothan less than a month ago. Both joined the department earlier this year, but for two different reasons.

Wright said he decided to join AFD after meeting some of the other members and finding that firefighting was something he was interested in.

“I’ve enjoyed it so far,” Wright said.

Skanes said being a firefighter was always on his list of career goals when he was a child.

“When I was younger in school, I made a list of what I wanted to be when I grew up,” Skanes said. “Becoming a professional football player didn’t happen, and firefighting was something I always wanted to do. I’ve always wanted to help people.”

Skanes was an All-State running back for the Brantley Bulldogs, and holds an Alabama High School Athletic Association record for 522-career points during his tenure from 2001-2004. He played college football at Reedley College before signing with the University of North Alabama. He also played semi-pro football.

Wright and Skanes began training at the Dothan Training Center in August and returned to the Andalusia Fire Department as full-time employees last month.

The pair said they had learned a lot of the basics of firefighting and many search and rescue techiniques.

“It was fun, I learned a lot of stuff,” Wright said. “I learned the basics of everything from how to put on my gear, to putting out fires.

“We learned patterns for searching houses when you can’t see, and how to attack fires and what to spray and start,” he said.

During the search and rescue training, Skanes said they learned how to do searches blindfolded, how to properly remove a victim from a home and how to fight fires from a ladder by locking their legs in the rungs.

“We went to Ft. Rucker to a controlled structure fire and vehicle fire,” Skanes said. “It gives you some experience for the real thing.”

Skanes said he has been working at AFD since January, so he already knew a lot of what the training center was teaching them.

“I was a little more advanced going into the training, which helped me out a lot,” Skanes said. “I had an advantage.”

Wright and Skanes work on different shifts, but both have experienced their first fires since finishing the training.

“I got the chance to knock the window out in a truck fire on the LBW campus,” Skanes said.

Wright worked on a house fire located on Lindsey Bridge Road last week, and said it was very exciting.

“There is a whole lot more to this than just spraying water on a fire,” Skanes said. “You really have to check the scene before going in because what caused the fire can cause you harm.”

When the recruits and firefighters have free time they spend it cleaning the trucks and station, inspecting hoses and pumps on the trucks, doing yearly inspections of hoses, pumps and hydrants and continuing training.

Wright said his family is very proud of him for this career choice, and Skanes said his son, Jordyn, loves that his dad is a firefighter.

“It’s all he talks about,” Skanes said. “He’s told his friends if they ever have a fire, his daddy can put it out.”

Skanes said the AFD firefighters have been very supportive of him, and helped him deal with the death of his mother in April.

“I love this job and plan to be a firefighter the rest of my life,” Skanes said.

New Andalusia Fire Fighters Tom Wright and Devaris Skanes are shown. They recently completed training | Courtesy photo

New Andalusia Fire Fighters Tom Wright and Devaris Skanes are shown. They recently completed training |
Courtesy photo