April 2018

In Chile, all firefighters are volunteers, but they are every bit as professional and dedicated to training. In fact, a dozen concluded a weeklong session of advanced training at Palm Beach State College’s Fire Academy on April 20.

The firefighters came to the Fire Academy by way of a partnership with Mutual Aid Fire Training, run by Danny Sheridan, who is also a battalion chief for the Fire Department of New York in the South Bronx. He brought a group to PBSC five years ago and had been impressed.

“We do a lot of work in South America with the firefighters,” Sheridan said. “I was down doing training in Santiago, Chile this winter, and I just happened to mention that we had done training in the states, and the firefighters said they’d love to do it. That got the ball going again, and Kerry was very helpful in getting this all put together.”

Kerry is Kerry Weiss, PBSC Fire Academy’s interim director. He welcomed this cooperative effort between the two countries and the opportunity to pass on experience.

Chilean firefighters train at PBSC Fire Academy April 16-20.Chilean firefighters and PBSC instructors at the PBSC Fire Academy in Lake Worth for advanced training April 16-20.

“That’s basically what the fire service is all about—it’s how we operate,” Weiss said. “What I know, I’m going to give to somebody else. I got it from somebody, and I’m going pass it on to someone. Now we’re crossing borders with it.”

Weiss noted that the training worked out well for the volunteers, who liked the Lake Worth campus and the facility. Among the firefighters were several engineers and a physician, and all took time on their own to come to PBSC.

The classes were conducted with the help of some of PBSC Fire Academy’s Spanish-speaking instructors, who are currently on-duty firefighters with West Palm Beach Fire Rescue.

“We have a cadre of Spanish-speaking local instructors,” Weiss commented. “I don’t speak Spanish, so I can’t get my point across, but they can.”

The academy is Sheridan’s go-to choice for training.

“One of the things I like are the instructors,” Sheridan added. “Kerry keeps it all very high quality. Besides, there are the facilities—the new building—it’s very attractive for us to come here.”

See more photos on MAFT’s Instagram page.

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