31 added to area volunteer fire depts.
Fourteen area volunteer fire departments added 31 new firefighters to their ranks when the new firefighters completed a rigorous five-month course and received their certificates of completion June 8 at a ceremony at the Lower Macungie Township Community Center.
This was the seventh annual Bucks County Fire Academy course held twice a week from January to May at the Allentown Fire Academy, at the Allentown Fire Department Mack Station at 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, an hour to an hour-and-a-half each way, as was once the case. Lower Macungie Fire Department Chief Dave Nosal initiated the arrangement for the Bucks County unit to come to Allentown. Close to 200 Lehigh County area volunteers have received the local training since the program was initiated.
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 institution provides public safety training modules in countries around the world.
The firefighting skills training included 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; hazardous materials; and terrorist incidents.
In addition to the 112 hours in basic firefighting, volunteers learned life-saving and first-aid skills and learned how to recognize, evaluate and deal with hazardous material incidents. The hazardous materials training covered events as small as an anti-freeze spill at a motor-vehicle accident scene, to incidents as intimidating as weapons of mass destruction.
Lead instructor for the training Lt. Christopher Groller of the Allentown Fire Department was assisted by Troy Raab, of Coopersburg, and several other state-certified trainers.
Keynote speaker for the graduation Allentown Fire Department Captain Thomas Carl lauded the graduates.
“You are now officially warriors protecting the United States of America,” he said.
Recognized by instructors as the most all-around outstanding student in the course was Jose Fernandez, a volunteer with the Woodlawn Fire Company.