FIRE ACADEMY GRADUATION
Sixteen area volunteer fire departments added 26 firefighters to their ranks when the new firefighters completed a rigorous five-month course and received their certificates of completion at a ceremony held at the Lower Macungie Township Community Center recently.
This was the ninth annual Bucks County Fire Academy course, held twice a week January to May at the Allentown Fire Academy, Allentown Fire Department Mack Station, 1902 Lehigh St., near the Queen City Airport.
The 192-hour course is held in Lehigh County annually for area volunteers so they do not have to travel to Bucks County Fire Academy in Doylestown. Lower Macungie Fire Department Chief Dave Nosal initiated the arrangement in 2009 for the Bucks County unit to come to Allentown. Nearly 300 Lehigh County area volunteers have received the local training since then.
The Public Safety Training unit at the Bucks County Community College provides training for first responder units in 11 counties in southeastern Pennsylvania with national and state level fire, rescue, emergency medical and hazardous materials training and professional certification. The certification is portable and recognized by fire departments across the country.
The firefighting skills training includes building construction, basic interior firefighting skills, fire behavior, forcible entry, personal safety equipment, self-contained breathing apparatus, ropes and knots, search and rescue, vehicle fires, wildland fires and hazardous materials.
Among training modules, in addition to the 112 hours in basic firefighting, the volunteers learn life-saving and first-aid skills and how to recognize, evaluate and deal with hazardous material incidents. The hazardous materials training covers events as small as an anti-freeze spill at a vehicle accident scene to incidents as intimidating as weapons of mass destruction.
Lead instructor for the training was Lt. Christopher Groller of the Allentown Fire Department. He was assisted by several other state-certified trainers.
Recognized by instructors as the most outstanding student in the course was Jeffrey Broadhurst, of the Weisenburg Volunteer Fire Department. Jason Jesmain, of the Emmaus Fire Department was recognized with a spirit of leadership commendation.
Commencement speaker Douglas Snyder, a field supervisor with the Pennsylvania State Fire Academy, challenged the graduates to “always strive for the next level of training. If you get to the point where you think you know everything about firefighting, it’s time to get out of the fire service.”