One hundred twenty-eight firefighters from 41 volunteer fire departments in Westchester were honored at a graduation ceremony Thursday night at the Department of Emergency Services in Valhalla.
County Executive Robert P. Astorino and Commissioner John M. Cullen of the Department of Emergency Services congratulated the graduates for successfully completing the rigorous Firefighter I and Firefighter Survival training and thanked them for their service to their communities.
“Obviously it takes a great deal of special knowledge to be a firefighter,” Astorino told the graduates. “More importantly, it takes a special kind of person: the kind of person who puts his neighbors and community first; the kind of person who puts himself or herself in harm’s way to save life and property.”
He praised the volunteers for making time in their busy lives to complete their training and serve in their local fire department.
“I know that many of you came here to tackle your training after putting in a hard day at work or at school. So I thank you for the commitment you have shown to your training and for the service you are prepared to give to your communities.”
The 128 firefighters are graduates of seven separate Firefighter I classes conducted in the past seven months at the fire training facility at DES.
“The Firefighter I class is an 87-hour program that is the foundation and pre-requisite for all additional fire training that a volunteer firefighter will receive. It introduces the recruit to firefighting concepts, practices and techniques necessary for success in the fire service,” Cullen said.
In addition to the Firefighter I class, all the recruits also completed a 9-hour Firefighter Survival course.
Topics covered in Firefighter I training include firefighter safety, fire behavior, personal protective equipment, self-contained breathing apparatus, building searches, forcible entry, ventilation, building construction, ropes/knots, rescue procedures, forcible entry, hazardous materials, weapons of mass destruction, confined space safety and fire prevention practices.
Astorino thanked the fire training staff at DES for outstanding work and said the fire training program was an excellent example of a shared service between the county and the fire service.
“The county plays a key role in coordinating fire training in cooperation with local fire departments and in maintaining a top-notch training program. I am grateful as well to the instructors from multiple fire departments who contributed their talents and expertise,” he said.