Author Topic: City Will Add 10 Weeks to Training for Firefighters  (Read 2813 times)

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City Will Add 10 Weeks to Training for Firefighters
« on: March 01, 2007, 04:01:11 PM »
By TRYMAINE LEE
Published: February 27, 2007
The Fire Department will add 10 weeks to its 13-week training program for probationary firefighters at an annual cost of $12.4 million, fire officials said yesterday during a City Council hearing on the plan.

Assistant Fire Chief Thomas Galvin, head of the department?s Bureau of Training, said the enriched curriculum, to be phased in starting next month, would add about 400 hours to an already rigorous curriculum.

He said the two primary reasons for enhancing the program were firefighter safety and lowered application requirements.

Of the last 25 deaths of firefighters in the line of duty, Chief Galvin said, the majority were at least partly a result of unexpected structural issues. In one case in 2005, firefighters in a Bronx apartment building, became trapped when walls that had been illegally erected compromised the building?s integrity and collapsed with firefighters and residents inside. In other cases, he said, owners had divided larger rooms into separate apartments, and the new walls obstructed access to fire escapes. Often, he said, firefighters become trapped in a maze of illegally altered buildings.

?Our Bureau of Training has worked hard to draft a new, expanded curriculum,? he said. ?We believe that we can keep our firefighters in the field safer if, as probationary firefighters, we educate them about how a building is constructed, what its layout will be and what to expect once they get inside a building to fight a fire or carry out a rescue.?

Since the Department of Citywide Administrative Services announced last year that the education and work requirements for prospective firefighters would be lowered in 2008, Chief Galvin said, the Fire Department has believed that it must increase training. Prospective firefighters will still be required to have a high school diploma. But under the new requirements, their college credit requirement has been cut to 15 from 30, and they will need six months? work experience or full-time military service with an honorable discharge. Previously they needed the diploma and the 30 credits or the diploma and an honorable discharge.

The department currently has four classes of about 150 recruits a year. The extended program, expected to begin on March 19, will cut the classes to two a year, but each class will have about 300 students.

The department will add five weeks of training for the first class and another five weeks when the second class begins in the fall. The city has earmarked $1.9 million to cover the cost of the first expanded class. An additional $12.4 million has been budgeted for the 2008 fiscal year.

Chief Galvin said that the enhanced course load would include continuing reviews of tactical skills, and that more time would be spent on the chemistry of fire and the study of hazardous materials.

James Slevin, the vice president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association, said that while better training for firefighters was good, he questioned the necessity of more training. ?The U.F.A. has not been consulted with or informed about the expanded? training program, he told the City Council?s Committee on Fire and Criminal Justice Services. ?The money that is being spent on the training would better be spent on reopening the six closed firehouses.?

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City Will Add 10 Weeks to Training for Firefighters
« on: March 01, 2007, 04:01:11 PM »