From staff reports
Jeremy Garber and James Masters of the Lady’s Island – St. Helena Fire District were among the graduates of the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation’s South Carolina Fire Academy’s most recent eight-week firefighter candidate school in Columbia.
Garber was the class’ Chief Robert Frick Award winner for being the recruit with the highest grade point average.
The class graduated Friday, Sept. 25. Bluffton Township Fire District Chief John Thompson was the keynote speaker.
The firefighters underwent a 320-hour training program of classroom and hands-on firefighting skills development.
“This challenging eight-week program requires commitment, passion, and dedication,” Fire Academy Superintendent Dennis Ray said in a release. “These recruits have successfully worked together as a team, performed extensive hands-on training with live fires, and passed intensive practical skills evaluations and written tests to meet the National Fire Protection Association standards.”
The comprehensive training, offered quarterly at the Fire Academy, includes emergency responder first aid training, hazardous materials operations training, auto extrication, flammable liquids and gas firefighting, rescue training, and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Firefighter I and Firefighter II levels.
Additionally, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, changes were made to class structure and facilities to promote social distancing and recommended precautions.
“With the successful completion and graduation of these new firefighters, who will now be dedicating their lives to serving their communities and the state, our South Carolina fire service is enhanced,” Ray said. “I am proud of their accomplishments and I also commend the dedicated Fire Academy instructors who brought the recruits through these weeks of instruction leading to graduation.”
The Fire Academy provides emergency services training to the municipal fire service – both paid and volunteer – airport crash rescue departments, industrial fire brigades and emergency teams and service organizations including EMS, law enforcement and military from around the state and the world.
The Fire Academy is accredited by the International Fire Service Accreditation Congress and National Board on Fire Service Professional Qualifications (Pro Board) for multiple NFPA firefighter levels.
The Fire Academy and the State Fire Marshal’s Office make up the Division of Fire and Life Safety, which is a division of the S.C. Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.