Most non-service personnel are not at all familiar with the amount and level of training firefighters are required to have. Civilians often believe that being a firefighter is as simple as being able to squirt water through a hose onto a fire. They may relate their only experience with fire to using a garden hose.
The men and women of the Cinnaminson Fire Department are highly trained and skilled in many areas of emergency services. First, everyone is certified by the State of New Jersey as a Fighter. In order to earn this certification, members must successfully complete over 150 hours of classroom and practical training at the Burlington County Emergency Services Training Center. They must also pass a final written examination as well as a series of practical demonstrations to prove competency before being eligible for this certification. This allows a member to serve as a firefighter under direct supervision. During the next year or so, the firefighter learns the department operating guidelines, the location and use of the tools on all apparatus, and must attend a minimum of 40 hours of department training annually. The member is required to pass an annual physical examination, be certified medically and physically to wear self-contained breathing apparatus, and attend mandatory refresher training in hazardous materials, blood borne pathogens, confined space, and the department standard operating guidelines. Every member is also required to be CPR certified, including the use of Automatic External Defibrillators.
Next, a firefighter is required to attend approximately 24 hours of formal training in vehicle extrication. This course trains the firefighter on the use of hydraulic rescue tools (Jaws of Life), vehicle stabilization, and where and how to actually cut a vehicle apart. In addition, in-service training provided by the Cinnaminson Fire Department covers our Standard Operating Guidelines and all other tools carried to perform vehicle extrication. Training is also provided on pre-planned Landing Zones for medical evacuation helicopters and how to set up and communicate with the flight crew.
Next, we need driver/operators to get the apparatus to the scene of an emergency. Pumpers average 30 feet in length, 8 feet in width, 10 feet in height, and weigh around 20 tons. The department’s ladder truck is over 45 feet in length, is 8 feet wide, 10 feet high, and weighs 40 tons. Formal driver training takes many hours until the firefighter is competent in driving a large piece of apparatus. In order for a firefighter to become a qualified driver operator, he/she must also attend a formal training course on pump operations. This training covers how to pump water from a fixed water supply to pumpers on the scene and how to be the pumper on the scene that receives water and pumps it through hose lines used to fight the fire. Driver/Operators must be familiar with the operation of the controls, be familiar with the internal operation of the pump itself, and have the ability to calculate friction loss based on the size of the hose and the distance and pressure needed to be pumped. Additional, optional training in such areas as engine and ladder company operations, water rescue, fire code enforcement and EMT is available to any member.
As with every organization, leaders, or in the fire service's case, fire officers are needed. Every fire officer in the State of New Jersey is required to be certified in Incident Management. In addition, formal fire officer programs last between 40 and 80 hours each.
Because the Cinnaminson Fire Department offers numerous services to the residents, workers and visitors to our community; our members need to be proficient in the following :
Vehicle Extrication including passenger and freight trains
Confined space operations
Rope Rescue Operations
Fire Code Enforcement
The CFD also provides a first responder program. This means that a fire truck is dispatched to any serious medical emergency. All of our career staff and a large percentage of our volunteers are Emergency Medical Technicians. All four engine companies and the ladder company are outfitted with everything needed to provide basic life support services. To become certified as an EMT, the firefighter must attend 120 hours of classroom and practical training, pass a State written and practical examination, and serve 10 hours working in a hospital emergency room. Once certified, the EMT must attend 60 hours of continuing education seminars over the next three years to qualify for recertification.
Even though the CFD employs a full-time Fire Marshal and full-time Fire Inspector, both of whom are certified firefighters/EMT’s, a large number of members of the department are also certified in Fire Code Enforcement by the State of New Jersey. This certification requires a firefighter to attend a 90 hour formal training program and pass a national written examination. Once certified, the member must attend between 20 and 30 hours of continuing education training over a three year period to qualify for recertification.
Additionally, certified fire instructors are required in order to be able to present certain training in house as well as utilize the Burlington County Fire Training grounds. This State certification requires a fire instructor to attend over 50 hours of formal training and then between 10 and 30 hours of continuing education training over a three year period in order to qualify to recertify.
Specialized training is also required in areas such as handling incidents involving people with disabilities such as autism. Additional specialized training includes terrorism awareness, where firefighters are trained to recognize the telltale signs of terrorist activities, gang awareness training, and training on recognizing and handling incidents involving illegal drug laboratories.
So you see; being a member of the fire service, and in particular the CFD, brings with it a significant initial and ongoing commitment. Being a member is not as simple as being able to squirt water onto a fire. Our members are the most highly trained emergency response personnel in the community.