Rome fire recruits get hands on training

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The Rome Fire Department’s new recruits received some hands-on training in tearing a car apart at Rubicon Recycling on Thursday.

The makeshift class is part of the in-house training program the department is doing for their seven new recruits, because the COVID-19 pandemic has shut down the regular fire academy.

“We’re doing an in-house academy,” explained Captain Michael Davis. “Rubicon has been amazing for us. If we ever need to cut up a car, we just call them. It was a great opportunity.”

The new recruits and other firefighters used the agency’s hydraulic tools to train on removing and cutting glass out of vehicles, rolling back the roof and how to properly extract people after a crash. The training is routine for the fire department every year, but Thursday was a unique class.

The seven new recruits were sworn onto the fire department in late March with no idea when they would be able to attend the fire academy. The April 1 start date had already been postponed because of the pandemic, and no new start date has been set. Davis said the department has since decided to train the recruits themselves.

“Let’s research what we need to do to get these guys certified in-house,” Davis stated. “It’s been a lot of research on our end.”

This is not the first time the Rome Fire Department has held an academy in-house, but Davis said the last time was more than a decade ago. He said the department has been working with the state Office of Fire Prevention and Control and several other state agencies to go over the certification requirements with a “fine-toothed comb” to get it right.

The Utica Fire Academy has also sent over brooks and other supplies to help out, he stated.

All four fire department shifts have been a part of the in-house training. Davis said the recruits attend class at the Central Fire Station on Black River Boulevard Monday through Friday.

“It’s been very rewarding for our guys,” Davis stated. “We’re all working with the new recruits. We’re learning them, they’re learning us.”

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