New recruits complete intense basic firefighting course

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 May 2015 at 12:00 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Justin Behrend-Jones, a member of the Kendall Fire Department, races to get his turnout gear on today during the final exam for the basic firefighting course.

Behrend-Jones and 12 other recruits spent the past three months of meeting for classes, typically two to three times a week. The volunteer firefighters took their final exams today to become basic firefighters.

The recruits went through a series of drills under the watchful eye of three state fire instructors. In this photo the new firefighters are checking their self-contained breathing apparatuses, verifying the gauges, making sure the straps are intact and the units are clean and working properly.

Ben Diltz, 22, from the Calrton Fire Department puts on the turnout gear, a multi-step task that needed to be done properly in less than 2 minutes.

Today’s final exam was at the Orleans County Fire Training Center on West Countyhouse Road. The fire training tower at the site was filled with smoke and firefighters had to show search and rescue skills as part of the final test.

Joe Robb is a member of the Kendall Fire Department. He waits for the signal to start getting on his turnout gear.

The recruits were from fire departments in Orleans and Monroe counties. Besides being tested on cleaning and assessing the condition of their equipment and putting their turnout gear on within 2 minutes, they also needed to pass tests for hydrant connections, setting up and using ladders, and primary search and rescue skills.

Tim Adams (left) from the Fancher-Hulberton-Murray Volunteer Fire Company and Tiffany Petry from the Shelby Volunteer Fire Company work with their turnout gear.

“It’s been kind of a dream since I was a kid,” Adams said about being a firefighter. “It’s community service. Somebody has to help everyone else who needs help.”

Adams joined FHM in September. He looks forward to more training with his department.

“I plan on going farther after this,” he said about advancing his skills. “I’ve always wanted to be a firefighter.”

Jerry Lewis, the lead fire instructor, announces the closing seconds of the turnout gear drill as Tim Adams signals he has completed the task.

Adams and the new recruits put in 100-plus hours in the training. Adams said the practice is critical for firefighters when they are on emergency calls.

“You need the repetition and you need to keep building your skills,” he said.

State fire instructor Jim Weber checks to see how well Andrew Faskell did in putting on the turnout gear. Faskell is a member of the Barre Volunteer Fire Company.