Press Release: 2023-05-31

Putnam Vocational Students Visit Fire Academy

Putnam Vocational Students Visit Fire Academy

Day-Long Program Exposes Students to the Fire Service


High school students wearing firefighter turnout gear in front of a ladder truck

SPRINGFIELD — Students from the Roger L. Putnam Vocational Technical Academy in Springfield recently spent a day learning about careers in the fire service at the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy (MFA).    

Firefighter assists high school student with turnout gear

The 10 juniors, who are studying in various vocational fields, visited the Department of Fire Services’ (DFS) Springfield campus on April 26. Dr. Sara Pragluski Walsh, who serves as the MFA’s instructional design and curriculum development specialist, met students with Assistant Coordinator Peter Jerusik of the Career Recruit Firefighter Program. They led a discussion and presentation on the fire service mission followed by an engaging tour of the campus that demonstrated the myriad types of training that the MFA offers to firefighters at every level of experience.  

Firefighter assisting a girl with SCBA mask

Academy instructors Zachary Gates and Christopher Hernandez – who are both experienced firefighters – assisted students in learning how to don and doff their turnout gear while emphasizing the importance of safety within the fire service.  Students were assigned to instructors to learn and then apply practical skills in search and rescue, forcible entry, and hose deployment. The students were extremely hands on with their learned skills, properly leveraging the “irons” as well as additional tools when carrying out forcible entry skills and interior search tactics. All the while, they supported each other in a teamwork approach that instructors emphasized as a core fire service value.  

Firefighters help high school students use a firehose

A class of recruit firefighters was conducting a live fire practical day during the visit, which allowed students to observe active firefighter training and discuss it with their assigned instructors. Throughout the day, MFA staff and municipal firefighters joined in to support the learning – many of them sharing that they, too, were graduates of Putnam or other Springfield public schools. 

Firefighter demonstrates the use of a Halligan for high school students

Later in the day, State Fire Marshal Peter Ostroskey, Deputy State Fire Marshal Maribel Fournier, and Springfield Fire Commissioner Bernard Calvi joined the students for a detailed question and answer session on the fire service and its opportunities, challenges, and rewards.

High school students in firefighter gear performing a search


The Putnam Vocational visit followed similar events for students at Shrewsbury High School, Northampton’s Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School, and South Shore Technical High School’s first Fire Cadet Training Program, which was offered in partnership with several local fire departments. DFS officials hope to continue offering the experiential opportunity to young people from across the Commonwealth at all three campuses.