State instructors administratively removed after Watertown firefighter’s medical emergency

State instructors administratively removed after Watertown firefighter’s medical emergency

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - When training resumes at the New York State Academy of Fire Science Facility this week some of the instructors won’t be there. This comes after a Watertown firefighter experienced a medical emergency while training in Montour Falls and ended up in critical condition in a Pennsylvania hospital.

A spokesperson for the state says as training picks back up this week, changes will have been made to the instructor team at the State Academy of Fire Science. In addition, there may be fewer recruits too.

That state spokesperson says the current recruit class is set to resume training on Tuesday. They’ve been off for the last few days, and that was scheduled time off.

He also says pending the on-going investigation, certain instructors have been administratively removed from the training schedule and he adds the academy puts the safety and security of its recruits above all else.

The spokesperson also acknowledges some of the 16 fire departments with recruits doing this 11-week program may choose not to send their firefighters back.

He says the academy understands the decision by some departments to withdraw from the program and that any recruit who withdraws can complete the training at any time in the future.

You can read the full statement from at the bottom of the page.

One of the departments considering not sending it’s team back to the academy this week is the City of Rochester Fire Department.

Lt. Ryan Fleming says the department has 7 firefighters doing the course and is now exploring its options, and no decision has been made if they will go back. Lt. Fleming adds Rochester has its own training facility, but chose to send its team to Montour Falls this year because of budget restraints due to COVID-19. He says the Rochester Fire Department’s thoughts and prayers are with the Watertown Fire Department.

This all comes after 21-year-old Peyton Morse experienced a medical emergency Wednesday at the training facility that has him in critical but stable condition. Morse is in the intensive care unit at the Guthrie Robert Packer Hospital in Sayre, Pennsylvania.

The Watertown City Firefighter is also a volunteer at the LaFargeville Fire Department - and the incident has brought the first responder and firefighting community together all rallying for Morse to get better.

Meanwhile, the Watertown Firefighters Benevolent Association is starting a collection for Peyton Morse as an account is being created for expenses related to the incident.

You can donate by sending a check to:

Watertown Firefighters Benevolent Association / Peyton Morse Fund

Watertown Savings Bank

111 Clinton St

Watertown, NY 13601

Or send money direct to Station 1 at:

Watertown Firefighters Benevolent Association Peyton Morse Fund

224 S Massey St Watertown NY 13601

Please add Peyton Morse to memo line.

They also ask for you to send positive thoughts to Peyton and his family.


Statement from Chet Lasell Assistant Director, Communications at the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services

“The New York State Academy of Fire Science puts the safety and security of its recruits above all else. It’s well known that firefighting is an inherently dangerous and physically demanding profession and that’s why we have worked tirelessly to ensure our curriculum not only prepares recruit firefighters for the rigors of live fire operations, but does so as safely and effectively as possible. The recruit class is continuing and firefighters will resume training on Tuesday following their previously scheduled time off. When instruction resumes next week, recruits will participate in emergency vehicle operations training and flammable gas firefighter training. Pending the on-going investigation, certain instructors have been administratively removed from the training schedule. There is no doubt this is a difficult situation and we understand the decision made by some departments to withdraw from the program at this time. Any recruit who has withdrawn is welcome to return and complete their work at any time in the future.”

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