Students train for flamesat UVSC firefighting sc

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    By DEREK FAY

    Two students clad in protective firefighting gear clutched the dripping hose and waited intensely as the instructor checked his stopwatch.

    Their anxious expressions melted into smiles as the verdict was shouted across the parking lot where they were training.

    “One-thirty-one, good job,” the instructor yelled.

    The students had finished the practice drill in one minute and 31 seconds, well under the requirement time to qualify for Firefighter I certification. This is only one of several certifications offered at the Utah Fire and Rescue Academy in Provo.

    The Utah Fire and Rescue Academy is one of the fastest growing programs of its kind in the state, said Alan Joos, certification coordinator for the academy.

    “The reality is that the demand exceeds our ability to deliver classes right now … our entry level classes have a full enrollment all the time. We’re anticipating being able to expand that program within the next one to two years so we can accommodate more of the demand,” said Terry Spoor, associate director of the academy.

    The academy was created when state legislation was passed in 1993, which allowed for better funding for the training program.

    It is through UVSC and classes can be taken for college credit. People can be trained in over 14 different areas.

    Training is provided to aspiring firefighters as well as career firefighters trying to advance in the field. The academy also offers a two-year fire science degree.

    “The (students) actually take both written and practical skills tests here, and are awarded certifications upon completion of the training,” Spoor said.

    To receive the Firefighter I certification, which is entry level, 72 basic hands-on firefighting skills must be adequately performed, said John Shields, an instructor at the academy.

    Advanced training at the academy allows firefighters with experience to learn the skills required to manage a fire crew, Spoor said.

    Competition in the firefighting profession is fierce.

    In order to even apply for a position at the Provo Fire Department, an applicant must have state certifications as Firefighter I and as an emergency medical technician.

    “Even for the departments that do not require a degree or training for employment … our graduates typically fill the top slots on those hiring lists,” Spoor said.

    Like any other business, skill and experience in firefighting are important to be considered for a job.

    “It tells us a lot about a person, who has gone to school on their own, and paid their way to achieve certain things that we would otherwise have to do for them,” said Dave Nielson, the battalion chief in charge of training at the Provo Fire Department.

    There are a handful of fire departments that don’t require such certification to apply for a job. However, this works to some applicants’ detriment when they are matched against academy graduates, Spoor said.

    “(The academy) gives us hands-on training so we can feel confident in what we do,” said Matt Payne, 25, from Valencia, Calif.

    A lot of students at the academy have different agendas when it comes to career choice. The academy provides cross-training to accommodate them.

    “I’m an EMT, I just wanted to increase my skills and my ‘hire-ability’,” said Jeanne Bake, 23, from Rexburg. Bake is a student at the academy who is already an emergency medical technician in Provo.

    Tats Ide, 21, from Tokyo, Japan, is a student at the academy who said he has always dreamed of becoming a firefighter.

    “In my city, the houses are packed together,” Ide said. “If a house burns, it will spread quickly and many people will die.”

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