Albany firefighters receiving extra training inside the classroom -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Albany firefighters receiving extra training inside the classroom

August 8, 2007

Albany--Enrollment in fire science is up exactly 187% from the last summer quarter.

Firefighters are trained to put out fires and sometimes even serve as rescuers.

Now one department is going the extra mile to provide even more training for its firefighters.

Recently, the Albany Fire Department formed a partnership with Albany Tech that enables its firefighters to earn an associates degree in fire science.

So far, more than half of the department's firefighters are enrolled in the fire science program.

From Monday through Wednesday, an instructor comes out to the department and teaches a course on how to better understand and perform their jobs. And each semester, more firefighters are signing up for the program.

The life of a firefighter is never predictable. Often times, they put their lives on the line.

"It's a very dangerous job, very stressful," says firefighter, Lorenzo Hall.  He has been with the Albany Fire Department for ten years. He's one of more than 90 firefighters there learning how to better serve the community.

"I love it it. I enjoy it. It's giving me an opportunity to get back in school," says Hall.

This group of firefighters are earning their associates degree in fire science through Albany Tech.

"It's giving me a chance to build on the knowledge I already have," says Hall.

"Our career field, the fire service, has been rapidly changing over the past few decades and the educational part of it has really come to the forefront," says Training Chief Ron Rowe with the Albany Fire Deptment.

This semester Rowe's crew is taking a course in building construction.

"Which is extremely important to us because we're continually going inside the buildings to fight fires, and we need to be able to recognize the hazards as much as we can," says Rowe.

The program also has its rewards.

"The main incentive should be is that they know their job better so that they're safer for themselves and their family.  We also have on the other end an incentive that if they complete the program, there's a pay incentive for them," says Rowe.

"I think the community should be proud of the Albany Fire Department. We have over seventy percent of the firefighters involved in getting an associates degree. This is unheard of," says instructor Don Laye.

Three days a week Laye travels to the Albany Fire Department where he teaches one course per quarter. There are fifteen occupational courses total.

"We'll continue this one course a quarter. The program is designed for management supervision classes. We have a fire service hydrolics class. We have, of course, the building construction classes, and leadership classes," says Laye.

"The more you learn about what you're doing, the more confident you are about doing it," says Hall.

And for Hall, that confidence will go a long way, as he continues to protect and serve the Albany community.

One course costs about $300 dollars, but most of the firefighters taking the class receive the HOPE scholarship.  Before firefighters can earn their associates, they must complete a total of 113 hours in the program.



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