PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The Portland Fire Department is reviewing a training session last Thursday in which two new recruits were hospitalized.
The names of those involved have not been released, nor have their conditions, but the incident itself showed up on a national firefighter watchdog website, causing some controversy.
Acting fire chief, Stephen Smith, says the two recruits were transported to the hospital last week after falling ill during a running exercise.
Smith released a statement saying: "Two of seventeen Portland Fire Department recruits participating in a 3.5 mile group running exercise, which is part of the department's 12 week recruit training program, were transported to the hospital for medical treatment after completing the first 2.5 miles of the run. My first and foremost concern was for the health and safety of those recruits and I am glad to tell you that they were treated and released from the hospital on the same day as the incident and are back participating in the training program."
He goes on to say he cannot comment on the medical conditions of the two recruits due to laws with personal medical records.
This weekend, a watchdog website, firefighterclosecalls.com posted: "[the two recruits] collapsed during PT that entailed running (not jogging) in 85+ degree temperatures with high humidity." That posting has since been taken down, while the city works on getting all of the details together.
Maine is one of just a few states in the country that doesn't actually have a fire training academy. Unlike new police officers who are sent to the academy in Vassalboro once they're hired, new firefighter recruits are trained within their department.
According to Bill Guindon, of the Maine Fire Service Institute, they themselves create guidelines and help train instructors, but departments are not required to use their guidelines.
He says not having a statewide program adds an extra amount of work and financial burden on each individual department.
Because of the extra work some departments will actually team up and train all of their new recruits together, but it's usually a once a year training. Because it can take weeks, even months to finish. That means, if a new recruit is hired in the midst of current training, they either have to wait for next year, or jump in on another department's training.
The Maine Fire Service Institute recently moved to the Brunswick Landing, where they can be more centralized and have plenty of moving space to expand. The goal is to have a working academy within the next 5 years.