Several departments begin firefighter training

A West Tisbury fire tanker during a "thank you" parade for frontline pandemic workers in May. West Tisbury will be training 15 students for Firefighter I and II certification over the next few months. — Rich Saltzberg

Tisbury and West Tisbury began basic firefighter certification classes on Sunday. The classes encompass Firefighter I and II certification. West Tisbury Fire Lt. Brynn Schaffner, one of the instructors in West Tisbury’s program, described the training firefighters will receive as the “basic building blocks of their fire service career.” 

West Tisbury Fire Chief Manuel Estrella III said West Tisbury is also hosting Chilmark and Aquinnah firefighters, for a total of 15 students enrolled. Classes have been configured at the fire station so students can attend while maintaining at least six feet in distance from one another, Chief Estrella said. Masks are mandatory, he added. 

The classes, which come at no cost to the firefighters, cover ladders, PPE, air supply, ropes and knots, search methods, hoses and nozzles, communications, tactical ventilation, hazardous materials, and a number of other topics. Classes are held Wednesdays and Sundays. 

Lt. Schaffner said Deputy Chief Greg Pachico is also an instructor, and Lt. Mark Bettencourt is an assistant instructor.

Tisbury has also started the same classes with 11 students enrolled, according to Tisbury Fire Chief Greg Leland. Chief Leland is one of the instructors for the classes. 

Both the Tisbury and West Tisbury classes run until Jan. 10, with exams held shortly thereafter. 

Edgartown Fire Chief Alex Schaeffer said his department expects to begin similar classes in November. Chief Schaeffer said he is exploring a partial remote learning option. 

Chief Estrella said it’s not too late if one or possibly two more people wanted to take the classes in West Tisbury. At this point the catch-up wouldn’t be too hard, he said. Given COVID-19 safety parameters, he said additional enrollees couldn’t exceed one or two people.