Graduates from First State Fire Training Academy Earn Their Pins

Graduates from First State Fire Training Academy Earn Their Pins

Dusty Hackney, Matthew Register, and Porter Chubb graduated from a state firefighter training program Thursday afternoon. SweetwaterNOW photo by David Martin

ROCK SPRINGS – Three probational firefighters were pinned during a graduation ceremony recognizing the trio’s achievement in completing the first fire training academy administered by the state fire marshal’s office.

Matthew Register, Porter Chubb, and Dusty Hackney completed seven weeks and 280 hours of instruction and drills utilizing trainers and resources from throughout Wyoming. Rock Springs Fire Chief Jim Wamsley said the program has equipped the three with the tools they need to serve the community, saying the training program itself aims to inspire recruits to be inquisitive and build upon their training.

Wamsley said firefighters are the Swiss Army Knives of emergency responders, having to deal with a wide range of situations. He said while firefighters in 1955 would have likely told someone their job is to put out fires, modern firefighters are tasked with responding to vehicle crashes, hazardous material spills, flood response, various rescue situations and more, as well as fighting fires.

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“We’ve picked a few people off the cliffs east of town,” Wamsley said.

Wamsley said training has changed significantly since his first introduction to firefighting. Two newer concepts firefighters are learning now is the importance of keeping their equipment clean and that they can and should reach out to someone if they’re troubled about a situation that didn’t go as well as they had hoped. Wamsley said firefighters used to view a clean helmet as a sign of a new and inexperienced firefighter, but illnesses tied to chemicals in smoke that can bind themselves to firefighting equipment have changed their views.

“A clean helmet is a sign of a healthy firefighter,” he said.

Wamsley said firefighters are between three and 15 times more likely to develop cancer in their lifetime and applauds recent legislation by the Wyoming Legislature to provide regular screening for firefighters but said it’s also on the firefighters themselves to reduce their risk. Once firefighters return from a call, their gear is washed, along with the truck and equipment they used.

Wamsley said mental health is also a struggle for firefighters and the program gives recruits a larger support group of firefighters from throughout the state. He said firefighters will experience situations where a rescue or call didn’t go as they had hoped. Program graduates meet fellow firefighters from throughout the state and are encouraged to reach out to them and discuss how they dealt with similar situations. Wamsley said one thing they hope to avoid is having firefighters dwell on instances where things didn’t go as they planned.

Wamsley said he has high hopes for the graduates and sees the training program as a means of better educating and training firefighters for the wide variety of challenges they will face during their careers.

To view photos from the ceremony, see below.