Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced on Feb. 12, 2021 that 39 firefighters from 16 fire departments across the state will begin their 11-week rigorous training program. The program is taking place at the State Academy of Fire Science in Montour Falls beginning February 13. Upon successful completion of the program, these first responders will achieve national certification and work as career firefighters in their respective fire departments. In order to ensure firefighters are protected throughout the 11-week Recruit Firefighter Training Program, the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services implemented several health and safety measures at the Academy in 2020. This current class will graduate on May 10.
“In every emergency where duty calls, our firefighters selflessly risk their lives to keep us safe, and I congratulate these 39 individuals who plan to devote themselves to this critical public service,” Governor Cuomo said. “Upon graduating from the Academy of Fire Science, firefighters are equipped with the most up-to-date skills and knowledge to perform their job – something we’ve all learned to appreciate in the unprecedented times we live in.”
New York State Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Patrick A. Murphy said, “We continue to see strong demand from fire chiefs across the state to send their recruits to the Academy to complete the state’s Recruit Firefighter Training Program. We look forward to hosting this class of firefighters, which represents the first of four Recruit Firefighter classes at the Academy in 2021. Upon successfully completing the training program, these firefighters will be well-prepared to meet the challenges they will face during their career.”
The Office of Fire Prevention and Control’s Recruit Firefighter Training Program provides basic training for both volunteer and recently hired career firefighters. During the 11-week program, recruits participate in more than 500 hours of training in both classroom and practical settings. Classes focus on areas such as emergency vehicle and pump operations, flammable gas firefighting, basic rescue technician skills and foundational firefighting training and operations. Recruits also participate in daily physical fitness training in preparation for the Candidate Physical Ability Test. Upon completion, graduates will have received national certification from the National Board of Fire Service Professional Qualifications in Firefighter I, Firefighter II and Hazardous Materials Operations.
In response to numerous requests from fire chiefs across the state, the Academy now offers incoming recruits the option to take specialized training in Rope Rescue: Operations Level and Hazardous Materials Technician Modules 1-5. Upon successful completion of the modules, firefighters can achieve Hazardous Materials Technician national certification through ProBoard. Additionally, incoming recruits can also take the Fire Inspector 1 and 2 courses. The Fire Inspector course can help recruits achieve national certification through ProBoard, and Building Safety Inspector certification through the Department of State Division of Building Standards and Codes. Nine recruits plan to take the Rope Rescue and Hazardous Materials Technician courses, and six recruits plan to take the Fire Inspector 1 and 2 courses. Firefighters attending the next Recruit Firefighter training class, which starts on March 13, have the option to take an EMT class in addition to the Rope Rescue, HazMat and Fire Inspector courses.
In order to resume in-person training at the Academy, State Fire officials have implemented several comprehensive health and safety measures to protect recruits as they complete their training. As part of this effort, recruits will now be required to complete the same screening process which has been implemented at state-owned facilities across the state. Specifically, recruits will have their temperature taken and be asked a series of questions to identify their potential exposure to the COVID-19 virus. This will occur each week as recruits enter the academy, and then twice daily as they are on site.
The Academy has implemented several steps to ensure firefighter and staff safety during the pandemic. This includes:
A significantly reduced number of course offerings to reduce occupancy;
The implementation of a single-room occupancy model in the dormitory to reduce density;
The installation of new physical barriers in the business and cafeteria areas of the Academy to support social distancing;
Modified food service to stagger cafeteria schedules, as well as replace buffet style service with individual meals being handed to each student by a single worker to support social distancing;
Modified classroom seating to incorporate social distancing;
Requiring all Academy occupants to wear facemasks in all common areas except when seated in the cafeteria to eat. All instructors and students must wear a mask even when socially distanced in classrooms.
The installation of additional hand sanitizing stations in all common areas; and
Ensuring housekeeping staff have the appropriate PPE and sanitizing supplies to ensure all common areas and touch points are cleaned and sanitized per Department of Health guidelines.
State Fire Administrator Francis Nerney said, “I applaud the Academy staff, instructors and State Fire personnel for implementing numerous COVID-19 prevention steps to ensure the ongoing training of these vital first responders. Despite the pandemic, the Academy will have one of its busiest years ever training to recruit firefighters. I credit the Academy’s facilities, instructors and staff for the increased interest in our training capabilities.”