Rhode Island launches state fire academy

EXETER, R.I. (WPRI) — For the first time ever, 14 firefighters from several different Rhode Island communities are receiving the same training. They represent the first class of the Rhode Island Fire Training Academy.

Cities and towns can now send students to the school for $2,500 a head which is more cost-effective than training firefighters at their individual hometown departments.

“I think one of the most important things is the training becomes uniform,” said the academy director, Mark Pare, on Thursday.

Before the facility opened, all of Rhode Island’s 6,000 firefighters received training from their departments.

The central training facility was 15 years in the making, Pare said. “This actually began back in 2002, when there was a bond issue to build a fire academy.”

Over the next decade, the construction and assembly process went through stops and starts. In 2012, a “burn building” and garage were completed. Four years later, the office building and classrooms followed.

Construction was finished December 31, 2016.

Now, “We will run them through a nine-week training program, which gives them certifications as ‘firefighter I’ and ‘firefighter II,’ and hazmat operations,” said Pare.

Students learn in detail everything from health and safety to fire chemistry, control, and behavior.

The first class of the academy graduates May 26. The second class starts training in June.

“There is nothing more important than to properly train for the emergencies that we will be called or asked to respond to,” said Pare.