Every year recruits going through Chattanooga Fire Academy have to complete a series of training exercises before they can become firefighters, part of their training is to go through live fire exercises. 

This week recruits had a search and rescue training here and Thursday they burned a vacant home on Robin Drive.

"Everything from the basics of firefighting to the hose lines to what to prepare for if we have a downed victim or downed firefighter in order to get them out,” said Cadet Cassie Webb.

Webb is one of 35 cadets and one of three women in this year's class. Fire Training Chief Phil Hyman said it’s also the largest fire academy in the department's history.

"It will help out the department tremendously. We had a lot of openings we needed to fill; this will actually fill us up almost to our current number of what we need,” said Hyman.

Cadets said it's invaluable hands-on training that you can't learn inside the station.

"Getting to experience it over and over and learning it out here, versus having to learn it out there we may not be sure about it here we can mess up and it be safe, rather than going out there and messing up,” said Webb.

The landowners donated the home. The fire academy used the property to learn rescue techniques in a real-life situation.

"They actually had to bring a down firefighter up from a basement, up a flight of stairs and out a window which is extremely difficult we've done a lot of search and rescue drills where they go in there and find mannequins under live fire conditions conduct live search and rescue,” said Hyman.

Thousands applied to be in this year's academy, cadets said they are thankful for this experience.

For Webb being in this year's class means so much more.

"Being a woman in a male-dominated profession there's always going to be barriers but just go for it that's all you really can do,” Webb said.

Hyman said there are so many recruits this year they will conduct two more live fire burns next week.

The cadets are close to finishing their training. Next, they will train on accident response and handling hazardous materials. The class will graduate on April 13th.