If we're on duty...we're training.
At the Clayton Fire Department, we try to have the best training possible for each of our firefighters. While on a work shift personnel are required to do at least 2 hours of training a shift and the ambitious ones do more. Each year, our part-time firefighters are required to do 120 hours of training while full-time firefighters are required to do 240 hours of training. We make this easily obtainable by doing training sessions on each work shift, planning two regular training sessions a month, and every quarter we have a department drill. With all of these opportunities to train, getting your hours done is simple.
What if you were to be hired at Clayton Fire Department and had no experience, what would you do? The good news is that we teach you everything that you need to know from beginning level of NC Firefighter II to the more advanced level of Technical Rescuer Certification and everything in between! The first 18 months with us, you will be learning the NC Firefighter II certification. This certification is over 400 hours long but you will be taught by a certified instructor. During this certification, you will learn the basic stuff to become a firefighter from how to use your gear, to how to put a fire out. There are several classes involved in this process. Once you have completed the basic firefighter skills, you have a choice to make. You can either remain with just your Firefighter 1 certification or you can continue your education and obtain different certifications. We prefer that you continue your education and obtain your Technical Rescuer certification.
The Technical Rescuer certification training is something that we pride ourselves on here at Clayton Fire. The initial certification consists of General and Rope Rescue Technician courses, and is 120 hours long. Per the NC Officer of State Fire Marshal, students must obtain the initial "Technical Rescuer" certification in order to get any of the other specialty certifications. The other rescue topics that are available are Vehicles (48 hours), Water (48 hours), Agriculture (60 hours), Confined Space (64 hours), Trench (64 hours), Collapse (88 hours), and Wilderness (60 hours). As you see earning these certifications requires a lot of time and commitment. There is also annual training that comes along with these advanced certifications. Not everyone has to have these, but if you want to be on the Special Operations Team you are required to have one of these Special Certifications.
Each year in March or April, we do a Trench Rescue drill for a weekend. This gives everyone their annual practice with their Trench skills. In July during regular shift training we do our Water Rescue refresher. We now have a boat so we try and go to the greenway and access the Neuse River for this refresher. We practice doing boat movements on the river since that is where we would more than likely be called. A weekend in August or September, we do our annual Confined Space Rescue. Like other refreshers, we spend time working on our Confined Space skills to ensure that everyone is exceptional in what they need to do. To ensure their rope skills are up to par, each Thursday personnel practice various ropes or other technical rescue drills. Rope skills are something this group trains on frequently so as to not lose this skill; these are the building block of Technical Rescuer.
Once you finish your Technical Rescuer certification you can then choose to move on to driver training. The driver has the most important job. It’s their job to get you there safely or else you can’t do your job that your trained to do. Driver training is a basic pump operation that last many hours. Once you complete that you then have to do a road course on all of our vehicles, a pump operation scenario, and then drive to ten emergency calls with a current certified driver. For annual training, you must have 30 hours of pump time and 30 hours of drive time. This training can be easily obtained like the other training hours.
Anytime you come up to the Clayton Fire Department you will more than likely see the guys doing some type of training. We pride ourselves on our training. We always say, “Don’t train to get it right. Train until you never get it wrong.” Our jobs are very important and we have to work together as a team to ensure the safety of the great town in which we live!