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Education and Home

The training of firefighters in USA and Japan

A POINT OF AWARENESS - Preciosa S. Soliven - The Philippine Star

At the break of the Millennium on September 11, 2001, American firefighters became global heroes when a hundred of them gave their lives trying to rescue office employees of 430 companies occupying the 110 stories of the Twin Towers in New York. Nineteen terrorists of the al-Qaeda group hijacked four commercial airplanes deliberately crashing Flight 11 into floors 93 to 99 of the North Tower at 8:46 AM, and Flight 175 into floors 77 to 85 of the South Tower seventeen minutes later at 9:03 AM. The third plane crashed into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia; Flight 93 fought back and the plane crashed into an empty field in Western Pennsylvania. Between 16,000 and 18,000 people were in the World Trade Center (WTC) complex. Five other buildings in the complex were destroyed when the Twin Towers fell. The attacks killed 3,000 people from 93 nations. Thousands of volunteers helped with rescue, recovery, and clean up efforts. By May 30, 2002 the last piece of World Trade Center steel, now known as Ground Zero, was ceremonially removed.

Besides New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania firemen joined the rescue

Four colleagues of firefighter Ronald Coyman of New Jersey died during the Twin Towers rescue efforts of all fire stations of New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Having retired, Mr. Coyman is now a volunteer fireman, who proudly explained to me that a fireman’s career could be traced back to past generations in one’s family. His line goes all the way back to 1892. Even his daughter who teaches, and his son who works with 911 Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP), took the firefighters’ course. I met him and a couple of his colleagues (part of a team of 60 volunteers) at his residence at Warwick Court, River Edge County, where my niece Maritess Ramos also lives. His pager frequently beeped with incoming 911 calls.

Mr. Coyman took Maritess and I to their fire station at 55 Ackerson Street. We saw slick basic fire trucks including the “engine company” that carries water to supplement the fire hydrant existing on site of the fire, the “ladder company” that brings ladders and other tools essential for burning high rise buildings, and the emergency medical truck or the “rescue company” that holds specialized tools, like the heavy scissors used for ripping open a car which has pinned down a passenger in an accident. In career departments, there are usually 3 to 4 members for each fire truck. Two firehouses cover three towns including River Edge (12,000 residents) as part of a mutual aid group called, “triboro.”

Steps to becoming a firefighter

US Firefighters must have a high school diploma and hold a valid driver’s license. Though firefighters must be 18-year-old in order to work, limited on-the-job training can begin at a younger age. There may be a limit on age as well, usually between 28 and 30-years-old. Applicants must be physically fit and may be required to pass a criminal background check and drug screening as well. Typically, fire departments participate in recruitment fairs when they are looking for new recruits. To enter a training program, applicants take at least two exams: a written test and a Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT). The written exam typically consists of around 100 multiple-choice questions and covers spatial awareness, reading comprehension, mechanical reasoning, logic, observation and memory. Applicants must also pass a rigorous physical fitness test. They should be able to perform a distance run in an allotted period of time, climb flights of stairs at a rapid pace, and lift and carry up to 200 pounds.

 For those who want to go on to careers in fire science, paramedics, or advance to leadership roles within firefighting agencies, there are associate and bachelor’s degree programs at colleges, universities and trade schools. If a prospective fire organization requires it, a young firefighter may need to complete an EMT-Paramedic training and pass those certification exams before applying for work.

Firefighting training course of Japan

Japan is beset with continuous earthquakes and at worse, tsunamis.  To impart fire service know-how and skills, the Fire and Disaster Management College has been established at the national level and fire academies at the prefectural level. In this way, functions for training are shared by the central government, prefectures and municipalities, and their mutual linkages.

As of April 1, 2004, 56 fire academies had been established in each of the 47 prefectures of Sapporo, Chiba, Yokohama, Nagoya, Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, Fukuoka, and the Tokyo Fire Department. Training standards in fire academies, such as the Fire Academy Training Standards (FATS), have also been established. According to these, training in fire academies consists of recruit training, special course training, manager training and special training for fire service personnel and a similar course for volunteers. Because volunteer firefighters are assigned individual duties, a firefighting school may dispatch an instructor to provide training when it is found that it will be difficult to satisfy the educational needs of firefighters through the system of training provided at a firefighting school.

Have DepEd and the dilg overlooked the indispensable track of national defense and security training for senior high school?

The Philippines is an archipelago of several islands separated from each other by the ocean. Dealing with the variety of natural and manmade disasters requires a diversity of complex skills to defend and secure the 120 million Filipinos. The promulgation of Republic Act 7975, otherwise known as the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Section 66 of RA 6975, established and constituted the Philippine Public Safety College (PPSC) as the premier educational institution for the training, human resource development and continuing education of all personnel of the Philippine National Police, Bureau of Fire Protection, and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology.

Therefore why hasn’t the DepEd included the crucial and fundamental track of national defense and security of the nation with the DILG?

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