Recruits, instructors pulled from NY state fire training program after trainee's critical injury

The injured Watertown firefighter, identified as Peyton Morse, 21, remains in critical but stable condition


By Laura French

MONTOUR FALLS, N.Y. — Some recruits and instructors have been pulled out of a New York firefighter training program after a trainee was critically injured during an exercise at the state academy last week. 

Officials recently identified the injured trainee as Watertown Firefighter Peyton Morse, 21, who became unresponsive during a drill involving breathing apparatus on Wednesday, according to the Watertown Daily Times. Morse remains in critical but stable condition in an intensive care unit in Pennsylvania. A fund has been set up by the Watertown Firefighters Benevolent Association to support Morseand his family. 

 

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Morse is one of 40 firefighters from 16 New York fire departments who enrolled in the 11-week Recruit Firefighter Training Program at the State Academy of Fire Science Training, which began on Feb. 13. Chet Lasell, the assistant director of communications at the state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, said in a statement that some of the program's instructors were removed from the training schedule pending ongoing investigations into the incident. 

Some fire departments have also chosen to withdraw their recruits from the program in light of Morse's injury. This includes the Ridge Road Fire Department in Greece, Monroe County, which pulled its four recruits from the program. Other Monroe County departments have also withdrawn from the program, the Watertown Daily Times reports. The Rochester Fire Department brought its seven recruits back to Rochester after the incident, but is still considering whether they will return to the academy when training is scheduled to resume on Thursday, officials said.  

State police, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the Public Employee Safety and Health Bureau are conducting investigations into the incident.

Lasell said the upcoming scheduled training includes emergency vehicle operations training and flammable gas firefighter training. He stated that the safety of recruits is the state fire academy's highest priority. 

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