It was a first Tuesday night for the Montgomery County Fire Academy -- a digital ceremony, but the occasion was no less important for Class 2002. Thirty-nine volunteer firefighters completed 188 hours of comprehensive training.
188 hours of comprehensive training completed by 39 volunteer firefighters at the Montgomery County Fire Academy. At one point they had their instruction interrupted by the coronavirus, and tonight are now graduating in the middle of that very same pandemic. @6abc pic.twitter.com/NOLOioTNrK— Christie Ileto (@Christie_Ileto) December 9, 2020
The recruits who at one point had their training interrupted by the coronavirus are now ready to face the flames.
"For me today, November 2020, to be completing this means we're able to put additional firefighters on the ground, on the road in my community," said Gregory Scott who is a magisterial judge and also one of the graduates.
Scott has joined Fairmount Engine Company No. 2 in Norristown.
The pandemic has added risk for the first responders in our region who already have one of the most dangerous jobs on the front line.
"Every time we went to training we had to do a temperature check, we had to do a pulsometer check," Scott said. "It's tough because you couldn't take your mask off. So you're wearing safety goggles and/or glasses and your glasses are consistently fogging up, so we had to figure out a way to do it safely."
The state, like the country, is facing a volunteer firefighter shortage.
"I often ask myself what makes me do this, but quite frankly, no matter pandemic or not, people are still calling 911, fires are still happening," Scott said. "It would be a disservice for me to just stay home while there's still a need. Me and my fellow firefighters will continue to heed the call and answer it, and we're confident in our skills and ability because of the training we had."