The Massachusetts Fire Academy’s Fire Officer One Training is “a lot of work” according to one of its Instructors and Coordinator of the Fire Officer Program, Bill Miller.
Though Stoughton firefighters Jim Brackett, John DeAndrade, Jim Rush, Scott Mellyn and Tim Mederios didn’t seem to mind.
In fact, they appeared rather proud of Stoughton as they took part in a hands-on, computer-based simulation at the Fire Academy based in Stowe in late March.
That’s probably because out of the 26 students participating from 19 area communities, five of them were from the .
The five week, 60-hour course parallels that of a college course, including reading, quizzes, discussion and lab periods. (Stoughton’s Station 2 hosted week four’s Strategy and Tactics training on March 22.)
Stoughton Fire Captain Don Jasmin, a Fire Academy Instructor himself (when not on SFD duty), explained, “Anyone who becomes an officer or has the potential to become an officer [i.e. captain or lieutenant] needs to complete Fire Officer One.”
“Even if they never take the promotional exam or become an officer, you can never take that knowledge away from him or her,” Jasmin added.
“All of [the students], are here on their own time...They think it is important [and] that’s why they are here to better themselves, their departments and their communities,” Miller said.
Firefighter Jim Brackett conveyed his personal aspirations and reasons for attending the training, “I passed [the exam], I was given the opportunity to take the course with the hopes of sometime, in the future, becoming lieutenant if a promotional opportunity comes down.”
Brackett continued, “The biggest take away for me was the resource management [in the simulator]. The training clarified how fast you can go through resources and how easy it could be to fall behind if you don’t have the resources standing by or already there.”
The training simulator trailer is equipped with all the necessary equipment and visuals to make it feel like the participants were on an actual call. All students are assigned a position, such as accountability commander, dispatcher and on-the-scene firefighters. The headsets the students wear simulate background noise.
Instructor Timmy Choate told the students, “A lot of people are skeptical of computer based scenarios but this is where we can go through scenarios without risk of injuries or death. It’s the place to make mistakes...this is the next generation of training.”
Choate said the training is, “obviously different doing this on a computer, but this is all about strategies.”
He reminded the students, “It is our job to put our life on the line for others.”