09/01/14 533 W - + 4 - 1 North Carolina Tops in Number of Firemen, 1978

Found via Google news, Sylva Herald & Ruralite on February 2, 1978. North Carolina had "more fire departments, more firemen and more state-supported fire service training" than any other state. There were 1,100 fire departments in North Carolina and 38,000 firefighters, not including "persons trained for fire brigades." The numbers were cited by Keith Phillippe, who supervised fire service training for the North Carolina Department of Community Colleges.

"Through fifty-seven technical institutes and community colleges, 39,695 firemen were trained," according to report filed by his office. That includes "students in fire brigade training and also includes students who have taken more than one course in a one-year period." The story noted that "in addition to regular extension fire service training" there were a pair of two-year curriculums taught.

Fire Science was offered by Central Piedmont, Gaston, and Western Piedmont community colleges, and Alamance, Forsyth, Guilford, Rowan, and Wilson technical institutes. Fire Science Operation and Management was offered only by Durham Technical Institute and was intended "primarily for people actively employed in fire service management or supervisor positions."

The extension courses were "short courses" due to their length, and they covered specialty topics. The exception was a course called "Introduction to Firefighter." It was developed for fire departments, where "firemen must be trained for service as quickly as possible." Or for departments that were new, that hadn't been active for "not more than two years and have had no formal training."

Specialized courses included "Forcible Entry, Portable Fire Extinguishers, Hose Practices, Rescue Practices, Protective Breathing Equipment, Arson Detection, Civil Disorder [!], and Fire Brigade Training For Industry."

About the latter, Phillippe noted "'One means of avoiding major industrial plant fire losses in North Carolina is for each plant to maintain a well-trained fire brigade." He added "it's not the intention that a [plant brigade] take the place of the local fire department. However, it's [their] responsibility to take action during the first crucial minutes of a fire." Those initial steps can help prevent costly fires.

The fire brigade courses are also taught in prisons. "Instructors can go into a prison, like it was done in a minimum security prison in Greene County through Lenoir Community College, and train the inmates in the art of firefighting." Those inmates were "actually" firemen with the town of Maury Fire Department. They responded to fire calls "as would a regular fireman."

Prisons across the state were receiving "regular fire brigade training." Those courses were for "fire protection solely in prisons." 

Also notes the article, "fire service training was among the first instruction to be offered in the late 1950s by industrial educator centers, which later became technical institutes or community colleges." Many students are sons and daughters of firemen, who received training in these schools.

Some fire service training was also offered by five other state agencies: the Insurance Department, the State Bureau of Investigation, the Institute of Government, North Carolina State University, and the Insurance Rating Bureau.

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