NFD Donates Former Engine 2 To NCCC

 In Local News

The Newberry County Career Center has a new addition to the fire program thanks to a donation from the Newberry Fire Department. The department recently donated their former Engine 2 (1996 International) to the career center for use in their training of their fire program students.

The fire department and career center held a dedication for the engine on Thursday, January 25 at the Newberry County Career Center outside of their fire program classroom.

The engine will be used for firefighter training at the program and will allow the career center to use the truck to help recruit for the program at career days at community events.

Fire Chief Gene Shealy approached Newberry City Council last November about the possibility of donating the engine to the program. The engine was replaced in operation at the Newberry Fire Department in 2020, he said, but was previously only meant to be donated if the career center had a building for the engine to be housed in.

Shealy said the engine would not bring in more than $5,000 if sold and he felt it much better spent to be donated to the career center as the program was very beneficial for both the city and county. Council agreed unanimously to move forward.

Mayor Foster Senn said that City Council appreciated Shealy’s idea to donate the fire engine.

“What a great partnership it’s been between the career center and the Newberry Fire Department,” Senn said. “The career center has educated many talented firefighters that have joined the City of Newberry staff and other fire departments in the county. Their graduates are doing an outstanding job.”

About the Partnership

Shealy said the career center’s fire program had been a huge benefit to both the fire department and Newberry County as a whole.

Prior to 2014, Shealy said the career center had had a law and fire program before it was split into two separate programs.

“This was due to a statewide push to develop certified firefighter programs in the career technology centers across the state,” he said. “Chief Minick at the time, along with the Newberry County Career Center and the South Carolina Fire Academy worked together to make this a reality in Newberry.”

In 2014, Shealy became involved in recruitment and retention for the city’s fire department and worked with Gary McGlohorn, to become a certified instructor for the program. The Newberry Fire Department is also a program sponsor and acts as the liaison between the career center and the South Carolina Fire Academy (SCFA).

“We assist with instruction, provide equipment when needed and line up all SCFA testing,” Shealy said.

Students in the level two program also do their service learning with the Newberry Fire Department, spending six hours per week for one semester with the department.

“We appreciate that the city does this,” McGlohorn said. It lets the students know if this is for them or not and lets the fire department know if this would be a good hire or not.”

The program has come a long way from the early days, both Shealy and McGlohorn agreed. Starting out with little to no gear or equipment, Shealy said the city along with other departments throughout Newberry County have donated gear, self-contained breathing apparatuses and other equipment to assist with the program.

While the class has a small number of participants, McGlohorn said they purposefully vetted the participants to keep numbers low and to ensure they have students who want to be there and understand the seriousness of the program.

“We must have students who are serious about the program due to the high risk associated with working within a hazardous environment,” Shealy said. “This keeps the program realistic and meets our standards of training.”

The course covers a lot of material in a short time and also contains a good bit of bookwork and written tests, Shealy said.

“While it is a small group, we have high quality students who are serious about the program,” he said. “Many programs around our state have higher numbers, but I believe our certification and placement rates are some of the best around.”

Each student who passes the high school written exam will be allowed to perform a skills evaluation test through the SCFA to gain a state recognized certification that meets a minimum standard.  Once they meet this requirement, they can challenge the national certification test to meet National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards for Firefighter I and Firefighter II certifications.  This is what the Newberry Fire Department requires for a minimum standard.

Shealy said one-third of their operational staff has come straight from this program through the career center with national accreditation.

“Had it not been for this program, I’d have been in a world of hurt for firefighters,” he said.

Shealy said donating this engine was the fire department’s way of thanking the career center for sticking with them.

“While the numbers may not be hitting the same mark as other programs, the benefits to the community are here,” he said. “You’re helping both the city and county.”