New CCCC Firefighter Academy graduates 18
SANFORD — June 29 was a night of firsts for Central CarolinarnCommunity College — 18 firsts, in fact.
Eighteen cadets graduated that evening from CCCC’srnfirst-ever Firefighter Academy program, a six-month course designed to trainrnand certify aspiring firefighters in every aspect of the profession.
Development of the program had been a goal of the collegernsince the mid-1990s. Joey Shue, retired captain ofrnthe Sanford Fire Department and the college's Fire and Rescue coordinator, wasrninstrumental in putting together the curriculum.
Since his retirement in 1997, hernhas overseen the college’s training of firefighters from the local area andrnaround the state. He and Wilbert “Tramp” Dunn, retired captain of the RaleighrnFire Department, serve as the Firefighter Academy's coordinators. Thernacademy is offered through the college’s Continuing Education Department.
“The establishment of this programrnand this first graduating class makes me feel wonderful,” Shue said. “Havingrnthis academy here is good for the fire departments, good for the communitiesrnthey serve, good for the students, and good for the college because we arernmeeting the needs of our communities.”
Landis Phillips, the college’s ETSC director, told thernpacked house at the graduation at the Dennis A. Wicker Civic Center that therngraduates had been through a lot in the six-month course.
“To me, the past six months have flown by — but to theserncadets, it may not seem that way,” he said. “They’ve been introduced to arnmassive amount of education and have had to master a great many skills.”
Cadets graduating from the academy had to pass 21 separaternclasses that new hires at fire departments would have to take individually, asrnwell as earn certifications in emergency medical rescue, vehicle machine rescuernand hazardous materials response. The course ran eight hours per day, five daysrnper week for six months.
“During this time, these cadets were basically full-timernstudents, or really, more than full-time students,” Phillips said. “Theyrncarried a heavy load — it was a total of 833 hours altogether — and many ofrnthem had part-time jobs.”
All 18 of the cadets are on staff at volunteer firerndepartments throughout the central North Carolina region, and Phillips said allrnare actively seeking employment as paid firefighters. While the academy isn’trnnecessary to become a firefighter, Phillips said it puts candidates far aheadrnof the competition.
“These cadets came out of the academy way ahead of the game,”rnhe said. “All of the things these cadets learned are things they’d have tornlearn one piece at a time, so having all of the certifications puts them thatrnfar ahead.”
At the graduation ceremony, the cadets’ friends and familyrnmembers packed the Civic Center, looking for a glimpse of their loved one. Anotherrnfamily was also in attendance: Firefighters and emergency responders fromrnacross the region showed up to welcome new members into what many described as “arnfamily” or “brotherhood.”
Chief Matthew Poole of the Garner Fire Department was therngraduation’s keynote speaker and told the cadets to always put others first.
“In the fire service, you never base your decisions on luckrnor chance. You base your decisions on what’s best for the people you’rernserving,” Poole said. “There are a lot of young guys who want to know what theyrnneed to do to be a firefighter, and I could give 100 different answers. But thernone thing that stands out is putting other people first. You serve others andrnput them ahead of yourself.”
The first Firefighter Academy graduates are: DaniellernCurrin, Benhaven Emergency Services; Devin Watson, Spout Springs E.S.; JohnrnCagle, Lemon Springs Fire Department; Dustin Walden, Buies Creek F.D.; A.J.rnCollazo, Lemon Springs F.D.; Scottie Swindell, Northwest Pocket F.D.; AaronrnStutts, Spout Springs E.S.; Devon Fujinami, Lemon Springs F.D.; Michael Beal,rnNorthview F.D.; Andrew Pilkington, Goldston F.D.; Dylan Lowe, Pittsboro F.D.;rnMatthew Bielli, West Area F.D.; Joshua Baker, Lemon Springs F.D.; JoshuarnBarefoot, Benson F.D.; Wesley Godwin, Elevation F.D.; Michael Roberson, LemonrnSprings F.D.; Jonathan Baker, Lemon Springs F.D.; and John Reese, NorthwestrnPocket F.D.
CCCC currently offers the Firefighter Academy twice perrnyear. For more information about the program, contact Shue at the EmergencyrnServices Training Center at (919) 777-7778.
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