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HCC may offer fire and rescue training program

November 19, 1998|By LAURA ERNDE

Anticipating a need for paid firefighters and ambulance drivers in Washington County, the Technical High School may offer a fire and rescue career training program next year.

High school seniors would receive the training at Hagerstown Community College three hours a day, said John Ingersoll, supervisor of career technology education at the Washington County Board of Education.

Students would have to be at least 16 years old at the start of the school year and be able to complete all other senior requirements for graduation.

Students also would have to volunteer at a local fire or ambulance company.

As the pool of volunteers continues to dwindle, the need for paid firefighters and ambulance drivers will increase, said Jay Grimes, president of the Washington County Fire and Rescue Association.

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"Job opportunities in this county over the next five years will become strong," he said.

Some local volunteers commute to firefighting jobs in the Washington and Baltimore suburbs, where they get paid roughly $30,000 a year to work 10 days a month, he said.

The Washington County Commissioners have earmarked $30,000 for the program for 1999-2000, Ingersoll said.

The school board is set to vote on the proposal at its Nov. 24 meeting.

Students will be trained in basic fire and rescue equipment, arson investigation techniques, emergency medical technician training and dealing with hazardous materials.

Instructors will be provided through the Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute of the University of Maryland.

The program is expected to receive formal approval from the Maryland Board of Education, Ingersoll said.

Ingersoll also is proposing the return of a graphic and printing communications program at the technical high school, formerly the Career Studies Center off Oak Ridge Drive. The program was suspended in 1996 because of a lack of well-paying jobs in the field.

Salaries are now on the rise because of the expansion of Phoenix Color in Hagerstown and printing industry trends toward computerization, he said.

A new printing program would be expensive, however, Ingersoll said.

James Rumsey Technical Center in Hedgesville, W.Va., estimated it would cost $300,000 to start one from scratch.

Washington County already has some of the equipment that would be needed and has received offers for more donations from local companies.

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