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ENSURING THE FUTURE: Wayside Fire Department donates air packs to train future firefighters

ENSURING THE FUTURE: Wayside Fire Department donates air packs to train future firefighters

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Wayside Fire Department recently replaced many of its airpacks but was left with more than a dozen that no longer met regulations.

The department was left with a decision about what to do with the airpacks that were still in good condition. Ultimately they decided to donate the airpacks to a couple of programs aimed at training future firefighters.

Five of the airpacks were given to the Career Academy and Technical School (CATS) firefighter training program and the other 14 will help a new program get underway.

Davie County Schools, with assistance from Davidson Community College, is planning to start a firefighter training program at Davie High School next year, and these airpacks are a welcome start, said Davie County Fire Marshal Cameron Webb.

“This is huge,” he said Friday as he and Sheffield-Calahaln Fire Chief Gary Allen picked up the airpacks at Wayside. Sheffield-Calahaln is located in Davie County but is also the primary department providing response for a section of Iredell County.

Webb explained that the airpacks, which are from different manufacturers, will allow the students at Davie High School to gain experience with a variety of breathing apparatus.

“They can learn the feel of different ones and how they operate,” he said. This, Webb said, will give them experience they can use no matter which fire department they choose to work at, either as a volunteer or paid firefighter.

Anthony Davis, Career and Technical Education director for Davie County Schools, said an EMT program was started at Davie High School and plans had been to start a firefighter program this school year, but with the COVID-19 interruption, the decision was made to launch the program in the next school year.

He said Davidson Community College offered help with the EMT program and is also going to do the same for the firefighter training. “This is exciting for us,” he said.

CATS Principal Larry Rogers said he’s thrilled to get the airpacks and to see another school opting to start training young people as firefighters. He said the CATS program, headed by Gerald Clodfelter, has placed former students at several departments across the state.

“This has been very successful,” he said.

Wayside Operations Chief Pete Deans and Administrative Chief Mark Rackley said the department is happy to be able to support educational opportunities for those wanting a career in firefighting such as CATS Cadet Brandon Moore, who was on hand for the donation.

Rogers said this is a prime example of the support the fire training program at CATS has received from the volunteer departments for many years. “The volunteer departments have been very supportive,” he said.

For volunteer chiefs like Deans, Rackley and Allen, providing the materials to help train new firefighters is just good business. They are making sure they will have properly trained firefighters to fill the ranks in the future.

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