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Pa. borough mandates minimum training standards

By Margaret Smykla
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

JEFFERSON HILLS, Pa. — In an effort to ensure the safety of Jefferson Hills firefighters and residents, the borough is requiring firefighters for its three volunteer companies to meet minimum training standards adopted by the municipality.

The standards were developed by Kurt Christofel, training chief for Jefferson Hills, based on a proposed state Senate bill that, among other objectives, would establish minimum firefighting standards statewide.

“When a fireman comes to my house to fight a fire, I want him to be certified to fight a fire for the protection of the residents and themselves,” said Councilman Dominic Serapiglia.

Certification is awarded to firefighters following a practical and written test demonstrating skills required by the National Fire Protection Association.

About 75 percent of the 39 active firefighters in Jefferson No. 885 are certified, Mr. Christofel said. Most of the firefighters in the borough’s other two companies — Gill Hall and Floreffe — do not have the certification, which is not required by the state.

Council adopted the resolution requiring certification last month. The resolution also requires 16 hours of continuing education a year for firefighters.

“This is essentially the same thing that [Emergency Medical Service] does with continuing education and required classes. It’s only being enacted for the public’s welfare and the safety of the firefighters,” said Mr. Christofel, chief of Jefferson No. 885, the largest of the borough’s volunteer fire companies.

The additional training will not cost the borough any money. The state will provide the training for free.

The classes will focus on basic firefighting procedures; advanced procedures for firefighting attack and survival; ventilation; ladders; first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation; hazardous materials; and more.

Mr. Christofel, an accredited instructor, will teach the classes from 7 to 10 p.m. Thursdays in the Jefferson No. 885 fire station or another fire station. They will be taught on a continual basis, depending on demand.

A new firefighter requires 165 hours of training; experienced ones require less depending on their experience and training.

Both can serve as firefighters in a limited capacity while undergoing training.

Firefighters interested in the classes should contact Mr. Christofel at Jefferson No. 885.

Copyright 2009 P.G. Publishing Co.

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