CHICAGO (CBS) — Some Chicago aldermen got a chance to walk a mile in the shoes of firefighters Thursday.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Nancy Harty reports, about a dozen aldermen, along with staffers from the city’s Budget Office and Law Department, went through a crash course of Fire Department training at the Quinn Fire Academy, 558 W. DeKoven St.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Nancy Harty reports

Fire Commissioner Robert Hoff extended the invitation for a day’s worth of car extractions, smoky searches, stair-climbing and putting out fires.

“It’s not us complaining. It’s to show the reality of what we truly do, and that we need everyone we have,” Hoff said.

Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) called the experience “life-changing.”

“We carried ladders. We opened fire hydrants. We did the hoses. We extricated people from cars,” she said.

Budget Chairwoman Carrie Austin (34th) says her respect for fire fighters has gone up.

“Now I know the intricate things that they need in order to train,” she said. “Do I want us to be the best in the United States? Yes I do. And if these are things that they need in order to equip our firefighters and our paramedics; our EMT units, yes. Life has to be more important than a dollar.”

At least one government watchdog – the Civic Federation – has suggested the city cut the size of the Fire Department as Chicago grapples with a $635 million budget deficit.

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