Knox County Fire Training Academy announces the graduation of the first class of Basic Fire School cadets.

Cadets completed two months training, culminating in a very full day of live fire training June 2 at Rockland Fire Department's training facility. All cadets who started the training finished and graduated. The 75-plus-hour course began in April and ran every Wednsday night with some Sundays included to provide more extensive hands-on training time. The course is designed to take a cadet with no or very basic skills in firefighting to the point where they can safely operate as a member of a team at a fire or other emergency scene.

Cadets were put through rigorous training in topics such as Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA), search and rescue, ventilation, forcible entry and firefighter survival training. All members participated in physical training before and after each training session, and each cadet was required to go through numerous "live burn" evolutions involving interior firefighting, cars fires and propane fires.

Each section of the course was taught by certified instructors who are veteran volunteer, call, or full-time firefighters from departments such as Camden, Rockland, St. George, Bangor and Scarborough. Each instructor donated their time and area departments donated facilities or use of equipment, keeping the cost of the course minimal and cost effective, while still providing a very high level of training.

KCFTA also worked with the students the very first night of class to set a schedule that worked for everyone attending. Surveys have shown that one reason membership has fallen off in volunteer/call departments is the time that is required so by working with the students, there were very few issues.

KCFTA is working to sponsor a full firefighter I and II class starting January 2014. This class will be taught in the same manner so that cost to local departments will be kept low and cadets will have the opportunity to attend these classes in the local area without having to travel, which is another key issue in supporting and maintaining volunteer and call departments.

KCFTA would like to thank Camden Fire Chief Chris Farley, Rockland Fire Chief Charles Jordan, St.George Fire Chief Tim Polky, Waldoboro Fire Chief Paul Smeltzer, Washington Fire Chief Tom Johnston and Assistant Chief Phil Munier and Rockland Assistant Chief Ken Elwell, along with Rockland IAFF 1584 C shift for their support of this endeavor.

Knox County Fire Training Academy is a committee that operates under the auspices of the Knox County Mutual Aid Association with the mission to provide high quality education for our local first responders. The KCFTA can be found online at kcfta.com/ or on Facebook at facebook.com/KnoxCountyFireTrainingAcademy.