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Front Page » April 2, 2009 » Carbon County News » Volunteer firefighters undergo intensive training
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Volunteer firefighters undergo intensive training


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By C.J. MCMANUS
Sun Advocate community editor

With fire season well underway, new recruits from the Helper, Wellington, East Carbon and Sunnyside fire departments are taking part in training which will teach them basic fire fighting, rescue and hazardous materials response skills to ensure better service and safety for their communities.

According to information provided by Price City Fire Chief Paul Bedont, instructors from the Utah Fire and Rescue Academy, Price, Wellington and Sunnyside have collaborated efforts to help train new recruits in a class hosted by the Sunnyside Fire Department.

"Sunnyside Fire Chief, Gene Madrid, has spent many hours scheduling instructors and training props to ensure the class is a success," said Bedont. "The basic training new recruits receive is the same training given to all firefighters regardless of whether they are career or volunteer personnel."

The training is long and intense, taking more than 120 hours to prepare for state examinations are needed to garner basic firefighting certifications. The students must pass both hands on and written examinations.

Additionally, firefighters are required to receive nearly 50 hours of training to safely combat wildland fires.

"Many of the departments also require their personnel to receive and EMT-B certification from the State of Emergency Medical Services, which takes and additional 120 hours of training and also culminates with a rigorous exam," said the Price chief. "All of these basic accreditations are just a portion of the training required to become a certified firefighter."

The Utah Firefighter Certification Program and Utah Fire and Rescue Academy are both nationally recognized and are based out of Utah Valley State University.

"They provide an efficient way to ensure all individuals receive the necessary training and testing to safely protect their communities," explained Bedont. "And while basic training encompasses many hours, continued education is required for firefighters to maintain their skills and certifications. This allows Carbon County's volunteers to play an essential role in providing critical emergency response in times of need."

Many in the public do not recognize that volunteer firefighters save the community thousands of dollars by providing fire, rescue, EMS and hazmat response as volunteers. Without volunteers doing these difficult and time consuming duties the cities would be forced to hire career firefighters to staff the cities and stations on a 24 hour a day basis, continued Bedont.

The National Fire Administration estimates that over 70 percent of the firefighters in the U.S. are volunteer. In Utah, that number climbs to 77 percent. In Carbon County, the volunteer departments struggle constantly to keep their units staffed and certified. According to the Price chief several reason for this dilemma include:

•Lack of time to train.

•Working long hours to support a household.

•Employers unable to allow firefighting personnel time to leave work to respond to calls.

•And 24 hour on call times are just of few of the reasons it is difficult to keep these volunteer departments fully staffed and trained.

"Many citizens have asked, what can I do help our fire department," commented Bedont. "I have devised several tasks that almost anyone in the community can do to make themselves and their families safer and help reduce the workload for local volunteers."

•Install and maintain quality smoke detectors in the home. Early fire detection not only saves lives but can save property and require less resources to extinguish.

•Install and maintain quality Carbon Monoxide alarms as the result of most CO alarms are false and due to dead or weak batteries.

•Purchase, maintain and know how to use a fire extinguisher. Many fires can be easily extinguished before they grow too large to control.

•Develop and practice a home fire safety plan. Part of the plan should include escape routes, should there be a fire, explained Bedont. Rescue operations at structure fires present serious life safety risks to everyone involved.

•Use appropriate extension cords.

Many fires are caused by electrical problems associated with extension cords which should have been replaced.

For further information concerning joining the volunteer squad or making one's home more fire safe, contact the local fire department.

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