Local fire teams take training into own hands, focus is on intensity and interoperability


ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — A high-intensity firefighter program in Monroe County graduated fresh fire recruits Tuesday morning in Gates.

After the State Fire Academy closed downstate due to COVID, here in Monroe County, fire districts wanted to make sure new recruits were ready to tackle any fire emergency — putting a renewed focus on a training program here.

“So we kind of circled the wagons, put our efforts together, and created the Monroe County Recruit Training Program,” says Fire Chief Alan Bubel with the Gates Fire District.

This is the fourth graduating class from the region, with a diverse group of 26 firefighters from nine different fire districts in Monroe County, and two from neighboring areas.

Bubel says the fire teams go through the gamut, and it’s a critical foundational level of training. 

“…But it’s crucial because if they don’t have the right start if they don’t have the training that they need in the beginning, then certainly it’s like dominos. The first domino falls down and they all go with it,” he says.

He adds many of these students will end up working together during their careers and the fact that they are forging relationships now will pay dividends down the road.

Fire recruit in action during training

Tomorrow is recruit Kevin Rhoney’s first day on the job. “It’s been a long, strange trip to get to this point but it’s always been a calling of mine and I’m here today,” he says.

He says the past 12 weeks have been a huge learning experience. “The fire service is changing every day and we have to be ready for every single emergency we’re called to,” says Rhoney.

Bubel says the business they are in is life-threatening. He says right now logistically, they’ve got a good thing working. “Very knowledgeable instructors who give these recruits real-world experiences in a safe operational training environment.”

The program partially honors fire recruit Peyton Morse who died during a tragic training event at the New York State Fire Academy in Montour Falls.

Fire recruits in action

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