Athol firefighter among Mass. Academy graduates

  • William Publicover of the Athol Fire Department, was among the 27 graduates of the 50-day Career Recruit Firefighting Training Program at the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy on Friday. Submitted Photo

  • The graduating class of the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy’s 50-day Career Recruit Firefighting Training Program at the Springfield campus on June 21. —Submitted Photo

  • Members of the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy’s 50-day Career Recruit Firefighting Training Program were put through rigorous instruction at the Springfield campus, graduating Friday. Submitted Photo

Published: 6/24/2019 10:17:09 AM

SPRINGFIELD – Athol Firefighter William Publicover was among the 27 members graduating from the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy Friday, June 21.

State Fire Marshal Peter Ostroskey and Massachusetts Firefighting Academy Director David C. Evans announced the graduation of the tenth class to complete the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy’s 50-day Career Recruit Firefighting Training Program at the Springfield campus on June 21.

“Today is an exciting day to see these recruits complete their training,” said State Fire Marshal Ostroskey. “This rigorous professional training provides our newest firefighters with the basic skills to perform their jobs effectively and safely. Being able to provide training closer to where western Massachusetts firefighters live and work has long been a goal of the Department of Fire Services and the fire service leadership,” he added. The Massachusetts Firefighting Academy (MFA), a division of the Department of Fire Services, offers this program, tuition-free.

The graduates, all men, represent the 13 fire departments of Athol, Chicopee, East Longmeadow, Holden, Longmeadow, Ludlow, Northbridge, Oxford, Sandwich, Southbridge, Springfield, West Springfield, and Wrentham.

Guest speaker

Northampton Deputy Fire Chief John Garriepy was the guest speaker. He is a 33-year veteran of the fire service with 20 years at Northampton Fire. Deputy Garriepy is a team leader for the Western Massachusetts Technical Rescue Team. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Springfield College in emergency medical system management. He graduated from Career Recruit Firefighter Class #143 and from the Chief Fire Officer Management program. Deputy Garriepy spoke to the recruits about how he relied on his academy training to manage the unmanageable the night an arsonist set 17 fires in 75 minutes in his community. He also reminded them to take care of each other not only during emergency responses but afterwards, to help prevent occupational cancer.

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 including self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), hydrants, 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, to contain and to control them. They also receive training in public fire education, hazardous material incident mitigation, flammable liquids, stress management, confined space rescue techniques, and rappelling. The intensive, ten-week program for municipal firefighters involves classroom instruction, physical fitness training, firefighter skills training, and live firefighting practice.

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.

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