Nineteen students completing the latest Chester County Firefighter I Training Course conducted final firefighting exercises at the Chester County Public Safety Training Campus. The exercises covered search and rescue, indoor firefighting, fire attack types, auto fires, dumpster fires, and stages of fires. All exercises represent the final steps needed to complete the 188-hour classroom and practical skills certification.
Chester County’s current Firefighter I class includes 17 men and two women, the majority of which are college students who are adding the important first responder certification to their other qualifications.
Sophia Crossan, a West Grove resident who is a rising sophomore studying neuroscience at Villanova University, said, “I have been involved in emergency medical services, and while I was hesitant to take the firefighting course, I absolutely love it.”
“There is so much that is covered, and as I really enjoy any type of STEM learning, the areas that really interest me are fire behaviors, the way fires work and studying the effects of different burning materials. I really enjoy the first responder aspect of my life,” added Sophia.
Oxford, PA resident Eddy Chavez, who is a rising sophomore studying Business Management at Arizona State University, has been in the fire service with Oxford Union Fire Company for almost a year. “With this course, I can take on more responsibilities in firefighting, including going into burning buildings and packing up,” he noted.
The need for firefighters across the state and the nation is at an all-time high. In Chester County, most firefighters are volunteers, which adds to the challenges of recruitment and retention of firefighters.
Matt Fink, Chester County Department of Emergency Services Fire Training Officer and leader of the Firefighter I course said, “As with many other organizations that rely on - and are looking for – volunteers, we struggle to replace those firefighters who are retiring out of service. But students like those on this course learn so much more than the necessary academic and practical firefighting skills. They experience the benefits of becoming teammates, working together, trusting each other, and backing up each other, which are all valuable life lessons.
“The Firefighter I training course is available year-round, and we certainly encourage others – especially students – to find out more about the certification. It is one of the best ways to give back to your community,” added Fink.