For the past year, five Pierce County fire departments have collaborated to create the Pierce County Fire Training Consortium (PCFTC) to improve and elevate training opportunities for firefighters. In the summer of 2022, Central Pierce Fire & Rescue, East Pierce Fire & Rescue, Graham Fire & Rescue, Orting Valley Fire & Rescue and West Pierce Fire & Rescue joined together to discuss the ways they could work together more cohesively when it came to firefighter training. The very first PCFTC recruit academy, The Forge Recruit Academy, will start September 5, 2023.
It is no secret that hiring and training firefighters is an enormous undertaking. In addition, it is an ongoing task that requires constant adaptations as new challenges arise. The fire service has continued to evolve and departments must keep up in order to provide the highest level of service possible. By collaborating their efforts, these Pierce County departments will now be able to ensure training needs are being met and the community is the ultimate beneficiary of the services provided. It is anticipated in 2024 alone, approximately 120 new firefighters will attend The Forge Recruit Academy.
Since these agencies already work together on a regular basis, it makes sense to collaborate to streamline efforts. As call volume continues to rise, along with a higher demand on resources, the need to train together improves how firefighters operate together on emergency scenes. The PCFTC consists of Training Division staff from all five agencies. All members are working collaboratively to build new training systems and delivery methods that meet the needs of all five departments. Their responsibilities include recruit academies, fire operations training, certification testing, as well as professional development. The PCFTC utilizes training grounds and towers from Central Pierce Fire & Rescue and West Pierce Fire & Rescue, plus classroom space from all five agencies.
This new training model is a benefit to the community, as these collaborative efforts result in improved working relationships as well as improved interoperability and resource reliability. Fire districts frequently request mutual aid support from other agencies during incidents, as no single agency could manage a significant event and continue to manage other smaller emergencies at the same time. By training together, the agencies are improving service to the collective communities by ensuring there are no gaps in service. While programs are continually being built out, the PCFTC is taking great strides to initiate these improvements to continually improve the service each agency provides to its community.