HOWLAND – The local Fire Department has big plans for the future after hosting its first-ever fire academy training.

Beginning Monday, March 9 and running through Friday, firefighters from several area departments were able to learn critical skills for combating fires while more veteran members could brush up on subjects in order to remain sharp in the event of an emergency.

“With such a turn over rate, and with so many new hires, very few (of Howland’s team) have had training on our equipment,” Noah Burr said Monday.

Burr organized the academy, which was modeled after the Basic Fire Training School. He was assisted with the instruction by Adam Brackett of Acadia Fire Instructors, Dustin Woods of Milford, Donnie Olson of Lincoln and Chad Bean, a member of the Bangor and Orrington Departments.

Several area departments were invited to attend. Burr said short notice affected the response, but he plans on hosting more academies in the future that will be open to the entire county.

“A lot of departments train once a month for two hours,” Howland Fire Chief Josh McNally said. “Any new person, to meet the objectives required by the state of Maine, would take forever.”

The goal of the Academy was to offer the mandated training in a single week. Burr said several area business offered their facilities to the department during the week.

“(Students) were given an address but did not know where they were going,” Burr said, stating that once on-scene, participants were given an exercise meant to simulate fighting an interior fire.

“It was real world type of training,” McNally said.

Madden Trucking, the Enfield Station School along with some area churches were a few of the organizations that opened their doors to trainees.

Burr said an important objective was “repetition under stress.

“A lot of the training we do is white board training,” he said.

The class room environment may provide firefighters with the knowledge, but does necessarily prepare them for the intensity of a real-life situation.

“We are hoping in the years to come to make it a regional thing,” Burr said, stating he hoped to provide an opportunity for firefighters to train with their mutual aid partners.

The academy was attended primarily by Howland firefighters. Lincoln provided its ladder truck one day for training. Lowell and Burlington also sent members of their department.

“It was a huge success. Everybody here raved about it,” McNally said.

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