Greater Williamston Business Association
By David Meade
The Anderson School District I & II Career and Technology Center Firefighting Program will be getting their very own live burn building thanks to local businesses. Members of The Greater Williamston Business Association (GWBA) will be providing funding to purchase four of six metal shipping containers which will be equipped and used for training students in the program. (Pictured is a similar burn building constructed of shipping containers.)
The Firefighting program at the ACTC is fairly new program, according to Instructor Luke Riddle and it is serving as a pilot program to introduce certification based in a high school setting.
The program, now in its sixth year, started in 2010 with no certifications associated with it.
A change in state legislation allowed the program to begin offering firefighter certification in conjunction with the SC Fire Academy.
“Current ACTC students receive the exact same training and certifications offered at the South Carolina Fire Academy’s eight week Recruit School,” Riddle said.
Under state law, a firefighter must be 18 years old.
However, sixteen and seventeen year old students going through the program receive the same training provided and required by the state and finish the program as certified firefighters.
The CTC seniors who complete the program have the opportunity to obtain a IFSAC Firefigher II National Certification which is recognized in all fifty states, Riddle. said.
The class instruction is the same received by training firefighters during their required eight week firefighting school. The cost for the state training is $880 he said.
“In their junior and senior years they take the exact same class,” Riddle said.
The Firefighter II certification requires approximately 300 hours of documented training and courses through the SC Fire Academy.
Full time and volunteer firefighters are required to have the same training, Riddle said.
As part of the SCFA certification process, students are required to train in live fire environments.
Students and local volunteer firefighters currently train at the Anderson County Fire Training Facility, a live burn building located on the west side of Anderson.
The trips require students to take all day field trips and miss classes at their home high schools to get this training, according to Riddle.
Having a burn building on the CTC campus will allow students to train without having to take a bus and all their equipment to Anderson. Local fire departments will also be able the use the structure for training.
An on-site facility would also provide a training location to perform various other firefighting skills such as ladder placement and fire hose advancement, Riddle said.
The block stucture in Anderson, which is used by all Anderson county fire departments, cost approximately $289,000.
The alternative using shipping containers is much less costly and they are approved to be used in the training.
A new shipping container costs $7000 to $8000. Used in good condition, $2500 to $3500.
The shipping containers are being made available at mininum cost by a local business with access to them.
The $6000 provided by the GWBA will purchase three 30-40 ft containers and one 20 ft. container for the CTC. Two additional containers will be needed to complete the project.
The containers will be welded together by students at the center and railing and other required features will be added. Water will also be made available at the site, according to CTC Director Hollie Harrell.
There are 75 to 100 students currently in the CTC Firefighting Program.
Students completing the program are often hired with full time fire departments right after graduation, according to Riddle.