First Responders Spotlight: Fire instructor leads local recruits through high-intensity course

First Responders Spotlight

GATES, N.Y. (WROC) — After the State Fire Academy closed last year due to COVID in Montour Falls, fire departments here in Monroe County decided to re-visit a training regimen they had to get fire recruits the training they needed. 

“We put them through everything from ‘firefighter I’ to ‘firefighter II’, to survival training, live-fire training …” said Lt. Jason Harris of the Gates Fire District.

Harris is the lead instructor for the 12-week course. He says they give recruits everything needed so they’re ready to go on day one. 

“As far as I know they love it,” he said. “A lot of them figured out quickly that this is a very intense program.”

One main focus is interoperability, so departments and districts in Monroe County learn various tactics, techniques, and procedures. 

“It’s really brought our whole county closer together as far as all the departments coming together with training and everything else,” Harris said. “So when we get to a scene, there should be very little talking and instruction; everybody knows their role and what we should be doing.”

Battalion Chief Brian Gebo of the Ridge Road Fire District nominated Harris for the First Responders Spotlight. He says there’s no better person to get these men and women prepared. 

“So, they’ve got to be battle-ready and Lt. Harris got them there,” Gebo said.

Bill Gray’s thanked Harris for his leadership in getting these recruits ready with a goodie bag. Harris says the best part about his job is watching his students make it through. 

“It’s very rewarding to watch someone who has never done any of this before, transition to a good recruit fire fighter, ready to be on the job,” Harris said.

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