23 Local Firefighters Graduate State Firefighting Academy
STOW - State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan and Massachusetts Firefighting Academy Director Shawn P. Murray announced the graduation of the 210th class of the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy’s forty-five-day Career Recruit Firefighting Training Program on April 11, 2014. “This rigorous professional training provides our newest firefighters with the basic skills to perform their jobs effectively and safely,” Coan said. The Massachusetts Firefighting Academy (MFA), a division of the Department of Fire Services, offers this program, tuition-free. The ceremony took place at the Department of Fire Services in Stow, MA.
23 Graduates from 15 Fire Departments
The 23 graduates, all men, represent the 15 fire departments of Dennis, Holyoke, Lakeville, Longmeadow, Mansfield, Newton, North Andover, Northampton, Norwell, Stoughton, Tewksbury, Walpole, Wayland, Wilmington and Yarmouth.
Guest Speaker Retired Deputy State Fire Marshal Tom Leonard
The guest speaker was former Deputy State Fire Marshal Tom Leonard. Deputy Leonard rose up the ranks of the Mansfield Fire Department from call firefighter to fire chief. He started his state service as assistant director for the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy in November 1983, and became Deputy State Fire Marshal for the newly created Department of Fire Services in January 1995 and retired in 2010. Tom has been a driving force behind many of the changes in firefighter training that he has seen in his career in the Massachusetts fire service, shaped too often by tragedy.
Today’s Firefighters Do Far More than Fight Fires
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 crashes. They test and maintain their equipment, ranging from self-contained breathing apparatus to hydrants to hoses, power tools, and apparatus.
At the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy 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, 9-week program for municipal firefighters involves classroom instruction, physical fitness training, firefighter skills training and live firefighting practice.
Starting with Class #200, the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy changed its training format from 72 students in a 12-week program to a smaller class size of 24 students that starts every three weeks. There are still 72 students on campus at any one time, but the smaller class size is expected to achieve time efficiencies without compromising learning, and in fact improve education with smaller student/instructor ratios.
Basic Firefighter Skills
Students receive classroom training in all basic firefighter skills. They practice first under non-fire conditions and then during controlled fire conditions. 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. Upon successful completion of the Recruit Program all students have met national standards of National Fire Protection Association 1001 and are 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.