HAGERSTOWN, MD (May 14, 2021) – The Washington County Division of Emergency Services celebrated the graduation of Recruit Class #1 from the Firefighter Academy and graduates from the Emergency Communications Academy at Hagerstown Community College Kepler Theater. 29 firefighter cadets have been in the classroom and in the field training over the past 8 weeks. On Friday evening, these men and women walked across the stage as graduates of the inaugural Washington County Firefighter Academy. In addition to the Firefighter Academy, 14 emergency communicators graduated from the Washington County Emergency Communications Academy.
Chief John Tippet, Director of Fire Service Programs for the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation delivered the keynote address to graduates. Tom Riford, Assistant Secretary of the Division of Tourism, Film, and the Arts from Maryland Department of Commerce – Office of Tourism Development, served as the master of ceremony for the graduation. In addition, Delegate Williams Wivell, President of the Board of County Commissioners Jeff Cline, and President of the Washington County Fire and Rescue Association Dale Fishack all delivered congratulatory remarks during the ceremony.
Director of the Washington County Division of Emergency Services Dave Hays said, “We are very excited to celebrate today’s graduation of the County’s 29 new firefighters and Emergency Communications Specialists. As many of these men and women report to work tomorrow morning, their impact will be immediate. The addition of full-time firefighter staffing, work alongside the volunteer workforce, represents yet another step in ensuring the sustainability of public safety throughout the County. The road to get here has certainly been long and stressful; however, the impact that these dedicated firefighters will be significant. This is another significant step as the Commissioners continue their support of public safety and our County volunteer fire and EMS community. The Emergency Communications Center remains ready to serve the community and the addition of these new Emergency Communications graduates will provide additional depth in shift coverage. The Emergency Communications Recruits have undergone training in 911 call taking, fire, EMS, and police dispatching, as well as geographic and radio communications techniques. We congratulate all of the recruits and welcome each of them to our Team.”
County Administrator John Martirano said, “I am very excited to celebrate the graduation of the inaugural class of the new Washington County Firefighter Training Academy. I congratulate these hard-working and dedicated individuals on this outstanding achievement. These new firefighters will work side-by-side with our outstanding volunteers and will make a significant difference in the lives and safety of our citizens.”
The 2021 Firefighter Academy was made possible by the SAFER grant, which was awarded to the Division of Emergency Services in September 2020 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. This amount is proposed to fund up to 33 firefighters over the next 3 years. As a recipient of the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Grants (SAFER) program, the funding will aid in reducing response times and enhancing firefighter and public safety throughout Washington County.
President of the Board of County Commissioners Jeff Cline said, “Tonight we celebrate the men and women who have chosen to dedicate their life’s work to public safety. We recognize the many sacrifices that will be made as they serve the citizens of Washington County. These are the heroes in our community who are here when we need them most. Your support of our volunteer system will ensure public safety into the future.”
The graduates from this academy will place three (3) firefighters on duty each day at four (4) strategically located volunteer fire stations throughout Washington County. The firefighters are intended to help augment our volunteer workforce by ensuring that dedicated staffing is available in various regions throughout the County.