Cardinal Joint Fire District Assistant Chief Matt Rarick had a specialized training session cut short on Tuesday, Oct. 1 when the federal government was shut down. He was attending the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Md., to get certified as a fire inspector.
"This is something I have wanted to do for over two years," he said. "I finally made it and they sent us home."
Rarick had applied to the academy several times and was finally notified he was accepted six months ago. His two-week course began on the week of Sept. 23 and he was supposed to finish on Oct. 4, until he and 219 other firefighters from across the country were told differently.
Photo by J.T. Whitehouse, Town Crier
Cardinal Joint Fire District Assistant Chief Matt Rarick is finishing a specialized training online this week after being sent home on Oct. 1 because of the federal government shutdown.
"On Tuesday (Oct. 1) morning, the instructors came into the classroom and told us we had two hours to clear out of the dorm rooms as the facility was closing as part of the federal government shutdown," Rarick said.
He said he was among a few lucky ones who drove to the academy and had a way home. Many of the firefighters had flown in and were told they had to obtain their own flight home. They were also told their flight tickets may not be reimbursed.
Rarick only had four days to finish and become a certified fire investigator, but all was not lost. He said the academy instructors were federal employees as well, and were among those being furloughed. He said they knew the shutdown could happen, so they took precautions to help those attending the classes.
"The instructors worked us extra hard for two days and got most of the classwork down," Rarick said. "They knew the shutdown was coming."
Those attending the class were told they could finish the course and take the final exam online. Rarick returned home to pick up and finish his training, but said he felt bad about losing out on a special event that takes place at the academy.
Each year, the academy holds a ceremony to honor fallen firefighters. Families of the fallen fly in to take part in it and firefighters who attend the academy's training program can stay over the weekend and serve as escorts for the families during the ceremony.
"I was going to stay and be an escort," he said.
He was not sure if the ceremony would even take place now that the academy is closed. He said the firefighters who were going to be escorts have all returned to their home states and the campus is closed. The Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial is on the campus, but he is hoping the ceremony will be held somewhere.