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Posted on Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 10 a.m.

Citizens academy to provide hands-on education of the public safety system

By Kody Klein

Craig Sidelinger, a training officer for the Ann Arbor Fire Department, has a question for you:

"When was the last time you discharged an (fire) extinguisher?" he asked. "You take it for granted that they’re all around, but you may have never used one."


Students in the academy will get to use the digital training simulator for police. file photo

Sidelinger said people will learn to do that and more in the third annual Ann Arbor Citizens' Police, Fire and Courts Academy.

Students of the citizens academy will study a variety of topics in the public safety system and will get a hands-on education of the challenges police officers, firefighters, and members of the judicial system face on a regular basis.

"We’re showing what your public dollars go to do," Sidelinger said.

The wide range of activities include putting out a fire with a real fire extinguisher, using the firetruck water hose, role playing law enforcement in a digital training simulator and observing demonstrations of tasers and pepper spray.

Sidelinger stressed that these activities are strictly educational and do not result in certification.

"We don’t hand out CPR cards, we don’t hand out first aid cards," he said. "We simply expose them to what we’re doing."

Sidelinger said the program culminates in a mock trial at the 15th District Court in which students may shadow the judge or the prosecuting and defense attorneys, or act as jurors.

"They’re seeing from front to back how everything works," he said.

The city is accepting applications to the free class until 5 p.m. on March 8.

"The class has been full every year," Sidelinger said. "It seems to be well received by the public. They seem to enjoy having the experience and the ability to get to know what their public safety officials do."

The class is held from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. every Tuesday, March 19 through May 21.

More information about the academy and an application to participate can be found on the city's website.



Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 8:30 p.m.

Id recommend these classes, I took it. But don't think that you'll get anything useful out of the firearms get to see/play with the FATS machine and see some of the firearms the PD uses (I still love how the effective range of an AR15 is 1500yrds, LOL!). Craig and the fire dept team were grrreat and super informative! Learned a LOT about fires, stats, and how freaking important detectors are in getting the @$% out quickly. And hotpotato, Craig and the other TO spend a ton of time training the FD. Its one of the best trained FDs in the state... But then again, if you actually went to this training you might know what you're talking about...


Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 9:09 p.m.

Bravo, well said.


Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 4:17 p.m.

I'm sure this Citizens Academy is beneficial to all that attend. I am unable to make that kind of time commitment, however, I would be interested in a workshop letting participants practice using a fire extinguisher. I have one under my kitchen sink dated 1987, I've never used it, don't know if it would still works. Perhaps teaming up with a company that sells fire extinguishers is an idea ,then participants could purchase one. What do you think, Craig?


Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 10:48 p.m.

Tyrone, Thanks, I just discharged mine in the backyard. I'll go to Stadium Hardware tomorrow for a new one. Guess I can skip the workshop.


Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 7:18 p.m.

May be craig should put this kind of energy in to training the FD?

Tyrone Shoelaces

Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 5:09 p.m.

If yours is that old, you should discharge it in the back yard for the experience, and then replace it with a new one.


Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 4:56 p.m.

"I have one under my kitchen sink dated 1987, I've never used it, don't know if it would still works" Wow, why do you need TO Sidelinger to fix this for you? If you don't know if it works and it's not one of the disposable type, why don't you get it serviced? The top result in Google for "Ann Arbor Fire Extinguisher" is a local company that can do it. If it is a disposable style, get a new one because I doubt you've been shaking it once or twice a year to keep the contents mixed.


Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 3:47 p.m.

Unusual looking fire extinguishers, or is the photo showing the "role playing law enforcement in a digital training simulator"? Wouldn't want to say the word "gun" oh no!!! Clean it up, sterilize, make sure all is PC (of course use the guns in the photo for hype). The new face of news today... bias by omission...not fooling anyone but sheeple with that story!! Come on sheeple people, herd up now, show your ignorance and vote this comment down! Baa baa baa.....


Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 3:28 p.m.

I highly recommend these classes. Not only are they informative but they are also a lot of fun. Plus you will meet like minded, responsible citizens. A lot of commentors here could REALLY use the education on a number of fronts. Such controversial topics as Safety department staffing and Use of force both by LEO and civilians for example.


Tue, Feb 26, 2013 : 2:05 a.m.

There is not just one instructor. depending on the category and subject it can be multiple people. That includes the FATS class


Tue, Feb 26, 2013 : 12:40 a.m.

How was the instructor?


Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 7:25 p.m.

Those guns, while fake, are awesome. It's the FATS trainer the police use for scenario simulation. I took the class with Ricebrnr, and I agree, it was a great experience. Nobody who took the class was sorry they did. Do it!

Homeland Conspiracy

Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 4:18 p.m.

And you get to play with fake guns too