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State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan and Mass. Firefighting Academy director Shawn P. Murray presented certificates of completion to members of the Call/Volunteer Firefighter Recruit Training Class 48 in a graduation ceremony at Department of Fire Services, Stow, on June 19.

The Call/Volunteer Firefighter Recruit Training program is unique in that it delivers a standard recruit training curriculum, meeting national standards, on nights and weekends to accommodate the schedule of firefighters in suburban and rural areas. Bringing the training closer to the firefighters often means more firefighters can participate.

More than a year ago, an online eBlended format was implemented that has students doing more work outside of class and taking quizzes online. This allows students more time to practice training skills with instructors and to better control their own workloads and time commitments.

33 Graduates from 22 Fire Departments

The 33 graduates, 31 men and two women, represent the 22 fire departments of: Ashburnham, Ayer, Berlin, Harvard, Hopedale, Hudson, Leicester, Littleton, Lunenburg, Millbury, Oakham, Oxford, Paxton, Pepperell, Shirley, Southborough, Stow, Tyngsborough, Upton, Westford, Westminster and Weston.

Today’s firefighters do far more than fight fires. They are the first ones called to respond to chemical and environmental emergencies ranging from the suspected presence of carbon monoxide to a gas leak. They may be called to rescue a child who has fallen through the ice or who has locked himself in a bathroom. They rescue people from stalled elevators and those who are trapped in vehicle accidents. They test and maintain their equipment, ranging from self-contained breathing apparatus to hydrants, hoses, power tools, and vehicles.

In this Massachusetts Firefighting Academy program, they learn all these skills and more from certified fire instructors who are also experienced firefighters. Students learn all the basic skills they need to respond to fires and to contain and control them. They are also given training in public fire education, hazardous material incident mitigation, flammable liquids, stress management, confined space rescue techniques, and rappelling. The intensive program includes classroom instruction, physical fitness training, firefighter skills training and live firefighting practice. The program also includes modules on emergency vehicle operations, motor pumper operation, and rapid intervention team training.

To graduate, students must demonstrate proficiency in life safety, search and rescue, ladder operations, water supply, pump operation, and fire attack. Fire attack operations range from mailbox fires to multiple-floor or multiple room structural fires.

Graduates have completed 320 hours of training on nights and weekends. Upon successful completion of the this program all students have met national standards of National Fire Protection Association 1001 and have the ability to become certified to the level of Firefighter I and II, and Hazardous Materials First Responder Operational Level by the Massachusetts Fire Training Council, which is accredited by the National Board on Fire Service Professional Qualifications.