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NY firefighter seriously injured in training exercise at state academy

The New York State Professional Firefighters Association raised concerns about the circumstances of the incident

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A Watertown firefighter was seriously injured during a training exercise at the New York State Academy of Fire Science Training on Wednesday.

Photo/New York State Academy of Fire Science

By Laura French

WATERTOWN, N.Y. — A New York firefighter is in serious condition after becoming unresponsive during a training exercise at the state fire academy on Wednesday.

Watertown Fire Chief Matthew Timerman said in a statement that the firefighter experienced a “medical emergency during a training exercise” at the State Academy of Fire Science Training, according to WWNY. The firefighter, whose identity has not been released, was one of two Watertown trainees participating in the Recruit Firefighter Training Program conducted by the state Office of Fire Prevention and Control.

A statement from the New York Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services called the exercise a “physical skills drill” and Watertown City Manager Ken Mix stated it involved breathing apparatus, according to WWNY.

After becoming unresponsive, the firefighter was transported to a nearby hospital and then airlifted to another hospital in Pennsylvania, according to Tilerman.

“He is currently in serious condition. The incident is under investigation and we ask the public to keep our firefighter, his family, and our department in your thoughts and prayers,” Tilerman wrote.

The New York State Professional Firefighters Association said in a message to union members Thursday that the incident involved “a life-threatening and disturbing series of events” and that “there are serious concerns about the circumstances and reactions surrounding these events,” WWNY reports.

The union demanded a comprehensive report on the incident and said its representatives plan to question Office of Fire Prevention and Control officials about the exercise and the personnel who supervised the training.

The Recruit Firefighter Training Program was described as an “11-week rigorous training program” in an announcement from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office published in February. Nearly 40 firefighters from 16 New York fire departments were expected to participate starting on Feb. 13, with graduation scheduled for May 10.