Haverhill Firefighters O’Neill and Lee Graduate from Massachusetts Firefighting Academy

Haverhill Firefighters Nicholas O’Neill and Paxton Lee in their official Massachusetts Firefighting Academy graduation photograph. (Courtesy photograph.)

Newly sworn-in Haverhill Firefighters Paxton Lee and Nicholas O’Neill were among the 34 firefighters graduating Friday morning from Massachusetts Firefighting Academy’s 50-day Career Recruit Firefighting Training Program in Stow.

As WHAV previously reported, both men were sworn in during a ceremony Thursday with Fire Chief Robert M. O’Brien and Mayor Melinda E. Barrett. They are among an expected hiring surge as the Fire Department replaces retiring firefighters and dramatically expands with 16 new federally funded positions that will bring a fully manned second ladder truck to Bradford.

“Massachusetts firefighters are on the frontlines protecting their communities every day, and today’s graduates are needed now more than ever,” said state Fire Marshal Jon M. Davine. “The hundreds of hours of foundational training they’ve received will provide them with the physical, mental, and technical skills to perform their jobs effectively and safely.”

Besides Haverhill, the graduating firefighters of Class 319 represent the fire departments of Acton, Concord, Dracut, Dudley, Everett, Falmouth, Franklin, Lexington, Middleborough, Needham, North Attleboro, Norwood, Reading, Salem, Saugus, Walpole, Westborough, Westford and Winthrop.

“Massachusetts Firefighting Academy instructors draw on decades of experience in the fire service to train new recruits,” said Massachusetts Firefighting Academy Director Eric Littmann. “Through consistent classroom instruction and practical exercises, today’s graduates have developed the tools they’ll need to work seamlessly with veteran firefighters in their home departments and in neighboring communities as mutual aid.”

Students received classroom training in all basic firefighter skills and practiced first under non-fire conditions and then during controlled fire conditions. To graduate, students must demonstrate proficiency in life safety, search and rescue, ladder operations, water supply, pump operation and fire attack.

Fire attack operations range from mailbox fires to multiple-floor or multiple-room structural fires. Upon successful completion of the Career Recruit Program, all students meet the national standards of NFPA 1001, Standard for Fire Fighter Professional Qualifications, and are certified to the levels of Firefighter I/II and Hazardous Materials First Responder Operations by the Massachusetts Fire Training Council, which is accredited by the National Board on Fire Service Professional Qualifications.

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