Delaware News

Donated ladder truck boosts center's fire-training program

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Rescuing someone from a burning building takes practice.

That's why students and teachers at the Delaware Area Career Center are excited about the newest addition to the school's firefighter-training program.

A ladder truck donated to the school by the Berkshire, Sunbury, Trenton and Galena Joint Fire District will become a training ground for teens and adults preparing for careers as firefighters.

The fire district donated the old vehicle, manufactured in 1984, to make way for a new ladder truck; the trucks usually are replaced after about 20 years of use.

The donated truck is too old to be used for real-life emergencies, but it's the perfect training apparatus, said fire instructor Dan Huffman.

Students will use the truck to practice operating the 100-foot ladder while wearing heavy fire gear, learn how to operate a hose from the raised platform and more.

In the fall, the truck also will be used during a "live burn" training session, in which students will practice putting out a real fire.

"Now we get to practice with one instead of just talking about it," Huffman said.

Previously, the program had to schedule time to use a local department's ladder truck for training purposes. Fire-training students are required to complete at least 16 hours of hands-on training before graduation.

The ladder truck joins the career center's fleet, which already includes three fire engines and a medic. Most high school programs have just a single fire engine, Huffman said.

"We have a regular firehouse here," he said, adding: "I don't think you can find any other high school training program with its own ladder truck. That's unheard of."

The truck also will be used in the career center's adult fire-training program.

BST&G Fire Chief Jeff Wilson said donating the truck -- instead of selling or scrapping it -- is an investment in the future of Delaware County.

Graduates of the center's program frequently go on to serve fire departments around the county, Wilson said. The BST&G Fire District itself currently employs six of those graduates.

"We thought it was best to move that truck on to a training facility that benefits the county," he said. "The idea is to pay it forward."

He added the truck is in good condition despite its age, and its aerial platform was certified for safety just last year.

BST&G's new ladder truck was delivered late last month.

Fire-training students at the career center aren't the only ones benefiting from a new practice vehicle.

Seniors Ben Applegate and Josh Cummins, students in the school's automotive program, recently used a loaned Ford car to practice fixing technical issues for a state competition.

Automotive teacher Mark McKinney said he planted bugs in the car's computer to help them train. They went on to finish seventh in the state contest, having qualified in local and regional rounds.

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