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Tewksbury's Newest 'Jake' Graduates Firefighting Academy

Jun 22, 2015 09:07AM ● By Bill Gilman

Firefighter Tyler Welch poses with his wife Jennie, and their son at Tyler's graduation ceremony from the Firefighting Academy.

Tewksbury's Tyler Welch was among the 21 graduates in the 229th Class of the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy.

State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan and Massachusetts Firefighting Academy Director George D. Kramlinger presided over the graduation ceremony on June 19. The graduates successfully completed the 45-day Career Recruit Firefighting Training Program.

 “This rigorous professional training provides our newest firefighters with the basic skills to perform their jobs effectively and safely,” said Coan. The Massachusetts Firefighting Academy (MFA), a division of the Department of Fire Services, offers this program, tuition-free. The ceremony took place at the Department of Fire Services in Stow.

21 Graduates from 16 Fire Departments

The 21 graduates, all men, represent the 16 fire departments of: Abington, Andover, Ashland, Attleboro, Concord, Fitchburg, Harwich, Leominster, Littleton, Marblehead, Natick, Southborough, Swampscott, Tewksbury, Westford, and Wilmington.

Welch began working for the Fire Department back in December, according to Tewksbury Fire Chief Mike Hazel. Welch's wife, Jennie, is the public safety officer for the Tewksbury Police Department.

Guest Speaker Boston Globe Columnist Kevin Cullen 

Boston Globe Metro section columnist Kevin Cullen was the guest speaker. He is known for writing moving columns about the brave acts of unsung heroes and the struggles of ordinary people in greater Boston. Cullen has worked as the newspaper's law enforcement reporter, legal affairs correspondent, has been a reporter-at-large, and wrote a column about city life for two years previously. He also wrote for the Foreign desk and was part of the Spotlight Team that in 1988 first exposed the relationship between the Boston FBI and notorious gangster James “Whitey” Bulger. He was a member of the 2003 investigative team that won a Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse scandal. He is co-author of the New York Times best-seller “Whitey Bulger: America’s Most Wanted Gangster and the Manhunt That Brought Him to Justice.” His column appears Tuesdays and Sundays.

Today’s Firefighters Do Far More than Fight Fires
Today’s firefighters do far more than fight fires. They are the first ones called to respond to chemical and environmental emergencies, ranging from the suspected presence of carbon monoxide to a gas leak. They may be called to rescue a child who has fallen through the ice or who has locked himself in a bathroom. They rescue people from stalled elevators and those who are trapped in vehicle crashes. They test and maintain their equipment including self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), hydrants, hoses, power tools, and apparatus.

At the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy they learn all these skills and more from certified fire instructors who are also experienced firefighters. Students learn all the basic skills they need to respond to fires and to contain and control them. They are also given training in public fire education, hazardous material incident mitigation, flammable liquids, stress management, confined space rescue techniques, and rappelling. The intensive, nine-week program for municipal firefighters involves classroom instruction, physical fitness training, firefighter skills training, and live firefighting practice.

Starting with Class #200, the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy changed its training format from 72 students in a 12-week program to a smaller class size of 24 students that starts every three weeks. There are still 72 students on campus at any one time, but the smaller class size is expected to achieve time efficiencies without compromising learning, and in fact improve education with smaller student/instructor ratios.

Basic Firefighter Skills

Students receive classroom training in all basic firefighter skills. They practice first under non-fire conditions and then during controlled fire conditions. To graduate, students must demonstrate proficiency in life safety, search and rescue, ladder operations, water supply, pump operation, and fire attack. Fire attack operations range from mailbox fires to multiple-floor or multiple-room structural fires. Upon successful completion of the Recruit Program all students have met national standards of National Fire Protection Association 1001 and are certified to the level of Firefighter I and II, and Hazardous Materials First Responder Operational Level by the Massachusetts Fire Training Council, which is accredited by the National Board on Fire Service Professional Qualifications.


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