HAMILTON – Firefighters no longer only fight dangerous fires like the midnight battle this winter to save people and houses on Salisbury Beach. As first responders, firefighters are called on almost daily to respond to a variety of hazards and emergencies.
You may meet them if your child fell through the thawing ice or at the scene of a car accident. Firefighters are the first to respond to chemical and environmental emergencies that may range from a suspected carbon monoxide or natural gas leak to a Fentanyl overdose. They also help in less lethal, but dangerous situation like a child locking himself in a bath or adults getting stuck in a stalled elevator.
The Massachusetts Firefighting Academy (MFA) graduated 21 new firefighters this month that will serve in towns and cities throughout the state, including several along the North Shore. The graduates received certificates of completion at a ceremony at Hamilton Wenham Regional High School, led by State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey and Deputy State Fire Marshal Maribel Fournier, acting MFA director.
The graduates represent the 13 fire departments of Boxford, Georgetown, Hamilton, Lincoln, Lynnfield, Middleton, Nahant, Newburyport, Rockport, Rowley, Topsfield, Wenham, and West Newbury.
“First responders are on the front lines of any crisis and these newest firefighters are needed now more than ever,” Fournier said. “The rigorous training they’ve completed provides them with the fundamental skills and knowledge necessary to protect their communities safely and effectively.”
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 firefighters means more can participate and allows them more time to practice training skills with instructors.
Among the graduates were Chris Patrikas in Boxford; Chad Cameron, Connor Cameron and Celia Xie in Georgetown; Cameron Borrelli, Jesse Cook and Laura Dixon in Hamilton; Matthew Thurlow in Newburyport; Thomas Beaton and Joseph Lucido in Rockport; Ryan Kaminski in Rowley; Andrew Dwinell in Topsfield; Milton Gautreaux in Wenham, and Justin Haley in West Newbury.
At the MFA, they learn all the firefighter skills, including the latest science of fire behavior and suppression tactics, from certified fire instructors. They also receive training in public fire education, hazardous material incident mitigation, flammable liquids, stress management, and self-rescue techniques. The intensive program involves classroom instruction, physical fitness training, firefighter skills training and live firefighting practice. They test and maintain their equipment including self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), hydrants, hoses, power tools, and apparatus.
Students receive classroom training in 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.
Graduates completed 240 hours of training on nights and weekends to complete the program and meet the standards of the National Fire Protection Association 1001. In addition, they can become certified to the level of Firefighter I and II and Hazardous Materials First Responder Operations Level by the Massachusetts Fire Training Council, which is accredited by the National Board on Fire Service Professional Qualifications.