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Fire chief wants serious training

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 March 31, 2008

Thomasville --  Firefighters must go through regular training and annual re-certification, but one area fire chief says some departments don't take that seriously enough.  

Now as a member of the newly formed Progressive Competency Evaluation Review Committee,  he says he's in a position to do something about it.

Thomasville Fire Rescue Chief Bryan Croft says unfortunately in certain areas of the state, firefighter training has fallen by the wayside. "It's a shame but training has been taken as kind of a 'yes we do it and pick up a pen and sign your initials or sign your name and its done," Croft says.

As a member of the new 13-person statewide panel to evaluate the fairness of the current process to recertify firefighters and fire departments he says he can almost guarantee those days are over.  "It's high time that those individuals that have been doing that, need to be held to their actions."

The panel has already looked at the state's evaluation of departments.  "It's very fair. There's no secrets to how you're going to be evaluated, and when you are evaluated if you should fail, the state works with you."

Now they'll take on the standards to recertify individual firefighters. Their core competency includes everything from getting their turnout gear on in under two minutes, life-safety issues and other things that have to be done every year. 

"You think of it as being simple, rookie stuff but its things we may have to encounter everyday that could save our lives or save our partners lives whoever it may be,"  says Driver/Engineer Marshall Green.

Right now the state level for a passing score is 70%, but not here in Thomasville. "Our chief expects us to be 100%," Green said.

"We don't take that 70% as a good number. We don't want anyone to fail at all, so in order for my people to complete their task they have to get a 100% on everything," says Croft.

Croft says he hopes higher standards are adopted statewide because he knows the 100% accuracy of his firefighters could mean the difference between life or death to someone else.

After reviewing the re-certification standards, each member of the panel will bring their personal recommendations to a three day conference in Forsyth in September.

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