Harrisburg Area Community College: Educating Pennsylvania’s Firefighters Since 1989

Member Spotlight

Harrisburg Area Community College (HACC), Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, has been serving the firefighting community through its 14-week fire academy—the only open enrollment career fire academy in Pennsylvania—since 1989.

Fire departments from across Pennsylvania send their newly hired firefighters to the Sen. John J. Shumaker Public Safety Center (PSC) at HACC to train alongside pre-service cadets. HACC has conducted an average of two fire academies each year, resulting in almost 300 career firefighter graduates.

In June 2015, HACC celebrated the graduation of eight cadets in its 53rd Fire Academy. The graduates and their fire departments are:

Altoona Fire Department

  • Randall Katich

Hanover Fire Department

  • Timothy Tyler

Harrisburg Bureau of Fire

  • Thomas Cucchiara
  • Pablo Passalacqua
  • Kyle Paul
  • Michael Shaak Jr.

Lancaster Bureau of Fire

  • Alex Carcamo
  • Edward Weiler

Cadets in the HACC Fire Academy train in the PSC’s state-of-the-art facility on 12 acres of HACC’s Harrisburg Campus. Features include:

  • Class A burn building
  • Complete fleet of fire apparatus
  • Confined space and trench/collapse rescue props
  • Five-story fire training tower
  • Flashover and backdraft props
  • Locker rooms
  • Smoke structure that simulates fire smoke

The academy is operated under a semi-military environment with strict guidelines established for cadets’ behavior, attitude, and interaction. Cadets are required to assume in-class leadership roles during the academy and are exposed to daily and weekly academic testing, as well as rigorous physical exercise and development.

The HACC Fire Academy provides theory and practical application of firefighter skills that exceed the instructional objectives of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1001 Fire Fighter I and II training standards. The instructional content of the HACC Fire Academy includes classroom and practical training in firefighting operations; hazardous materials and weapons of mass destruction emergency response; standard safety requirements for an occupational safety and health program for fire departments; physical development; Emergency Medical Technician (EMT); vehicle rescue operations; and technical rescue awareness level training. In addition to fire and rescue techniques, students are required to complete physical fitness, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and first aid classes.

HACC’s fire program also offers businesses confined space, employee safety, fire extinquisher, and hazardous materials training.

Opinions expressed in Member Spotlight are those of the author(s) and/or submitting college and do not necessarily reflect those of the League for Innovation in the Community College.