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2 from town among 22 state firefighting academy grads

Twenty-two graduates of the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy include two from Arlington -- Bryan P. Borges, at left in photo, and Sean P. O'Brien.

The 22, all men, represent the 13 fire departments of Arlington, Boxborough, Canton, Concord, East Bridgewater, Hanson, Haverhill, Holyoke, Littleton, Marshfield, Stoughton, Watertown and Wilmington.

State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan and Massachusetts Firefighting Academy Director George Kramlinger announced the graduation of the 223rd class of the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy’s 45-day Career Recruit Firefighting Training Program on Feb. 6."This rigorous professional training provides our newest firefighters with the basic skills to perform their jobs effectively and safely," Coan said in a news release.

The Massachusetts Firefighting Academy, 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.

Today's firefighters do 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 is locked 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, hydrants, hoses, power tools and apparatus.

At the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy they learn these skills and more from certified fire instructors who are also experienced firefighters. Students learn all basic skills they need to respond to fires 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, nine-week program for municipal firefighters involves classroom instruction, physical fitness training, firefighter skills training, and live firefighting practice.

Starting with class No. 200, the 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.

Students practice first under nonfire 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.

This story was published Saturday, Feb. 7, 2015.

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