5 academy graduates to join Pittsfield Fire Department

Twenty-four firefighters, including five from the Pittsfield Fire Department, completed the 50-day Career Recruit Firefighting Training Program at the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy in Springfield.

PITTSFIELD — When the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy graduated its latest class Friday, five members of the Pittsfield Fire Department were among the 24 members from across the state.

Now, Fire Chief Robert Czerwinski said, the five men are ready to join crews as full-fledged firefighters.

"They will be assimilated into the manpower roster," he said.

Czerwinski said he hired the new recruits in the fall, and a handful of vacancies have cropped up since then. The department has struggled to keep numbers up amid waves of retirements.

Czerwinski and Deputy Chief Raymond Tart, among others, plan to retire this summer.

Before the upcoming retirements, Czerwinski said, the department is "already in the hole."

The new guys — Jeremy Ostrander, Matthew McNulty, Lucas Perry, Jonathan LaCasse and Nico Amuso — report for work next week, he said, after completing a 50-day Career Recruit Firefighting Training Program at the Springfield campus.

Academy students learn everything from proper ladder operations to hazardous materials and maintaining water supply. The academy, a division of the Department of Fire Services, offers this program tuition-free, according to a news release.

Amanda Drane can be contacted at adrane@berkshireeagle.com, @amandadrane on Twitter, and 413-496-6296.