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Local fire training gets boost
OTC, city work to secure $256,000 grant
OTC Fire for Web
A live-fire training unit like the one shown above will soon be used as part of a new Fire Science program that will be offered at Ogeechee Technical College. The college worked with the Statesboro Fire Department to secure a $256,000 grant that will help purchase the unit. - photo by Special
    A new live-fire training unit will soon help improve the training capability of area firefighters.  
    Statesboro Fire Department Chief Dennis Merrifield, and Ogeechee Technical College President Dr. Dawn Cartee, announced recently that a $256,000 grant was secured through a joint effort of the college and fire department for the purchase of a mobile live-fire training facility.  The unit allows area firefighters to obtain state required training and re-certification annually without having to travel out of the area, according to Merrifield.     Ogeechee Tech now offers a Fire Science program, one of the only programs of its kind in this area of the state.  
    “This training unit will greatly enhance fire education capabilities locally,” Cartee said. “We are happy that Ogeechee Tech could assist in helping secure this grant.”
    “This equipment is a key part of being able to advance the fire science education program which OTC launched last fall,” Merrifield said. “This partnership forged between SFD and OTC will have a profound impact on improving the quality of fire protection in this part of Georgia.”
    Merrifield and Cartee both said budget challenges at the local and state level make joining forces to better serve the needs of the community and state is a smart move.  
    “Working together to secure this grant is an excellent example of how tax funded agencies can cooperate to improve services in a community,” Merrifield said.
    Ogeechee Tech has numerous public safety related programs in addition to Fire Science.  Paramedic, Emergency Medical Technician, Forensic Science, Criminal Justice, and OTC's new Regional Law Enforcement Academy, join Fire Science to offer a comprehensive set of public safety training options.  
    “We have developed a number of public safety related programs which will help ensure a qualified pool of trained employees for all of our public safety agencies in the area,” Cartee said. “This burn-unit will certainly provide the real-world experience encountered in a structure fire.”
    According to Chief Merrifield, the unit is designed to provide live-fire situations in a controlled environment allowing firefighters to train in a safe, but realistic manner.
    “Being mobile, we can take the burn-unit wherever it is needed to accommodate the students,” Merrifield said. “The training capabilities and the flexibility of location will make this training unit a very valuable piece of equipment.”
    The $256,000 Assistance to Firefighters grant will be combined with $64,000 in local funds provided by the City of Statesboro, for a total project cost of $320,000.  
    “The improved level of training which will be received by having this training unit will be well worth the cost,” Merrifield said. “When it comes to saving lives and property expenditures such as this are easily justified.”

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