The Covington News - - Front page -

Cov­ing­ton Fire Chief Don Floyd, who is also the ad­vi­sory com­mit­tee, said the academy will be a great part­ner for lo­cal de­part­ments.

“It’s a win-win sit­u­a­tion for every­one to part­ner with DeKalb Tech. They’ll pro­vide pub­lic safety train­ing in our back­yard, so we don’t have to go down to Forsyth,” Floyd said.

Floyd said the Cov­ing­ton Fire Depart­ment is giv­ing DeKalb Tech a re­tired 1989 pumper truck, which can no longer be used pro­fes­sion­ally. In ex­change for the truck, which is val­ued around $37,000, DeKalb Tech will pro­vide sev­eral up­per-level train­ing cour­ses to the city’s ex­ist­ing fire­fight­ers in ar­eas like ba­sic and ad­vanced car­diac life sup­port, lead­er­ship re­port writ­ing, ethics, weld­ing construction and haz­ardous sit­u­a­tions, Floyd said.

Wieser said the academy will be lo­cated on the back­side of the Al­covy Road cam­pus, next to the Av­enue of Cham­pi­ons. In ad­di­tion to the pumper, the academy will in­clude a burn build­ing, train­ing maze, train­ing tower, re­ten­tion pond, ve­hi­cle burn mod­ule, ex­tri­ca­tion mod­ule and other equip­ment. Wieser said the academy will op­er­ate like other acad­e­mies, with stu­dents train­ing in full uni­forms and in the same type of en­vi­ron­ment they will ex­pe­ri­ence in the field.

“There will be very lit­tle tran­si­tion needed to move straight into a depart­ment,” he said.

Each fire depart­ment still has to train new em­ploy­ees on that depart­ment’s spe­cific op­er­at­ing prac­tices, but academy grad­u­ates should be well pre­pared to ab­sorb quickly that train­ing, Wieser said.

Al­though the academy will be set up to train new re­cruits, DeKalb Tech al­ready has a Fire Sci­ence as­so­ciate de­gree pro­gram in its sec­ond year, which is de­signed to ex­pand on the ba­sic fire­fighter train­ing. The type of classes of­fered at the de­gree pro­gram, are the type of classes the Cov­ing­ton Fire Depart­ment will be re­ceiv­ing in ex­change for its pumper truck. Wieser said the classes will be of­fered on­line to work around the fire­fighter sched­ule, of 24 hours on, 28 hours off.

“The Fire­fighter I pro­gram (fire academy) is the ba­sic min­i­mum train­ing needed to be fire­fighter, but the de­gree will ex­pand on that knowl­edge base and teach lead­er­ship and man­age­ment classes, in­ci­dent com­mand, fire ser­vice in­spec­tions, fire ser­vice in­struc­tor classes,” Wieser said. “Those peo­ple will be ready for mid­dle man­age­ment type of po­si­tions within fire de­part­ments. A lot of area de­part­ments re­quire fire sci­ence de­grees for pro­mo­tion.”

Sat­ter­field said the county would still em­ploy lo­cal fire in­struc­tors to do its own ad­vanced train­ing.

Both Sat­ter­field and Floyd said their de­part­ments had two fire­fighter open­ings and the turnover rate at the de­part­ments is low. How­ever, both de­part­ments have plans to add some more fire sta­tions within the next few years, as­sum­ing money is avail­able. Sat­ter­field said his depart­ment hired be­tween 12 to 15 peo­ple ev­ery time a new sta­tion is opened, so the fire academy would be es­pe­cially help­ful at that time. Cur­rently New­ton County has around 80 full-time fire­fight­ers and around 80 vol­un­teers, while Cov­ing­ton’s fire depart­ment has around 55 em­ploy­ees.

Also planned for the fu­ture is a joint city-county fire train­ing cen­ter. The cen­ter would per­form the same func­tions of DeKalb Tech’s fire academy, so it has yet to be de­ter­mined if and how th­ese two pro­grams would work to­gether. How­ever, DeKalb Tech’s pro­gram is ex­pected to pro­vide fire­fight­ers to sev­eral sur­round­ing coun­ties, not just New­ton County.

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