Demopolis Fire and Rescue becomes first sponsor for Registered Apprenticeship Programs in Alabama
Demopolis Fire and Rescue is the first Fire Department to become a sponsor for Registered Apprenticeship Programs in Alabama. The Firefighter/EMT Registered Apprenticeship Program is nationally recognized and meets the rigors of federal standards that include industry-driven on-the-job learning, related instruction, a progressive wage scale, and credentials of value.
Firefighting apprenticeship programs are a major source of firefighting training nationally. Alabama had not capitalized on the program, though it does have the Alabama Fire College that offers training in classroom and theory and technical content knowledge. By establishing the apprenticeship program, the fire department can create a mentoring process so that young firefighters can learn to apply the content knowledge they received from the Fire College on the job.
Every registered apprenticeship is custom built by the employer who defines the competencies the employee has to be able to do to be successful. The length of the program for each individual is determined by where they are when they enter the program.
“If they come in with no training, this program is about a three-year program if you go straight through,” Director of the Alabama Office of Apprenticeship Josh Laney said. “The good thing about the apprenticeship program is that you can come in at the entry-level, and the employer trains you. An apprentice might stay at a certain level for a period of time while gaining experience on the job. Then they can go back and pick up the training and continue to accelerate through the program.”
Laney said he is very proud and excited to see Demopolis take on the apprenticeship program.
“Our small and medium-sized towns in the state need firefighters,” said Laney. “It’s difficult to recruit and retain people to come to these small towns and invest in a livelihood here. So the program allows Demopolis and other places like it to keep their best people.”
Interim Fire Chief Talmus Williams said the program gives the department a chance to provide more in-depth training to its firefighters.
“It’s good when you can come in and build your own training program,” Williams said. “It puts our guys in a leadership role and teaches them how to be proficient in what they are doing.”
The program will also fund the fire department at fifty percent of their budget. This means the program will allow the department to have certain classes that go more into detail on building their training program.
Williams said the program would benefit the City of Demopolis because it gives firefighters more detailed training that allows them to better serve the community.
“When you have a trained department, everything works well and flows like it should,” Williams said. “It also lets the citizens see the guys operate in a professional manner.”
Williams said the department is proud to be the first fire department in the state to establish this program.
“We are the pioneers. We are the ones who created it and the ones everyone will try to patternize themselves after,” Williams said.
Laney said he and his office appreciate the hard work Demopolis has put in to establish the apprenticeship program and is looking forward to seeing where it goes.
“We really appreciate the leadership of the city in investing the time to be the first ones to establish this program,” Laney said. “There weren’t role models around to look at the best practices, so they really invested a lot of time developing this program, and we appreciate their commitment to getting it up and running.”