Fire training collaboration to benefit students, sailors

TRAVERSE CITY — A collaboration between NMC’s Great Lakes Maritime Academy and the Northwest Regional Fire Training Center has led to a new, Coast Guard-approved firefighting curriculum that will save maritime cadets time and money, and could draw new revenue to the Center in Blair Township.

Beginning this semester, GLMA cadets will receive firefighting training required for licensure as U.S. Merchant Marine officers at the Center instead of in Toledo, Ohio. Potentially, they could have faced traveling as far as Florida or New York after the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) announced last year that it planned to close the Toledo Fire Training Academy.

That prompted Maritime instructor and Captain John Biolchini to work with Tim Wrede, training coordinator at the Northwest Regional Fire Training Center, to create a local course that would fulfill U.S. Coast Guard requirements.

“The two of them worked closely together and submitted a curriculum,” to the tune of 249 pages, said Jerry Achenbach, GLMA superintendent. The Coast Guard approved the curriculum with no edits or changes effective Jan. 1. The 40-hour course will be offered for the first time March 27-31.  {Editors: Photo/video opportunities will be available during this week.} Achenbach expects it to be offered three times annually, saving cadets travel and hotel costs.

“We are enthusiastic that the Great Lakes Maritime Academy could collaborate with the Regional Fire Training Center,” said Biolchini. “This first-class facility is a natural fit for educational opportunities in the region and I am proud to live in a community which encourages and supports all levels of education and training.”

The firefighting training is expected to attract other sailors, meaning more tuition revenue coming into the community.

“We’re hoping to sell this to the maritime industry,” said Wrede. “The service that we can provide and our customer base, we’re perfectly located.”

He added the Coast Guard has recently begun requiring that firefighting training certification be renewed every five years, which could present additional opportunities to the Training Center, a governmental cooperative created in 1990.

Furthermore, MARAD plans to loan some of the Toledo facility’s specialized equipment, estimated to value more than $100,000, to the regional center, Achenbach said.

Release Date: January 23, 2017

For more information:

John Biolchini
Great Lakes Maritime Academy
(231) 995-3147 (o)
(989) 619-2361 (m)

Tim Wrede
Northwest Regional Fire Training Center
(231) 357-3056


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