Welding and firefighter students collaborate to build skills
When Kerry Weiss, interim director of Palm Beach State College’s Fire Academy, recently reached out to Joshua Magwood about his welding students fabricating a forcible entry door, he hoped their partnership would not only help the firefighter students train to save lives, but also give the welding students a unique challenge.
“We started with a need over here for a forcible entry door,” Weiss said. “It’s very important so we can teach students how to enter a building, a structure. This prop will enable us to do that.”
With both programs based on the Lake Worth campus, Magwood, a Welding Technology program instructor, was able to walk over to the Fire Academy with his students to meet Weiss and discuss the door. A forcible entry door is a training device designed to teach firefighter recruits how to enter a locked building in an emergency. Ready-made doors can cost up to $8,000. Making it cost PBSC $1,000.
“It worked well. We bought the materials, and they did the labor. It came out better than our expectations—they did a fantastic job on it,” Weiss said. “They came over, took a look at what we wanted to do and collaborated on the design.”
The project got underway. Magwood and his advanced welding students drew up a blueprint and with the materials supplied by the Fire Academy, fabricated the door in 15 hours. “The students learned to follow a blueprint, get the right angles, troubleshoot fabrications and work as a team,” Magwood noted.
One of the welding students, Tim Timpson, said, “It was a fun time, and we got to learn a lot about fabrication. The welding program is great, and if you’re willing to work, you can really get a lot out of it.” He summed up his experience at PBSC with the word “hands-on.”
Magwood and his students delivered the forcible entry door to the Fire Academy by forklift on Feb. 6. The firefighter recruits now practice opening the door with a Halligan bar or flathead ax, as they would in real-life situations when having to enter a locked building.
“It’s a great tool to further our education. I’m pretty excited to get to play around with it,” said Brian Cannon, a Fire Academy student. “It’s a great program and definitely challenging. You have to be physically and mentally fit for it.”
Weiss reflected on the effort: “It was a terrific collaboration between the programs—for the welding shop to be able to work with the Fire Academy and create this prop to benefit our students. We’ve got to make the firefighter training as realistic as possible because these are the people who are going to go out there and save lives. We want them to have the opportunity to do it in training, so they can learn how to quickly get inside a house to save those lives. That’s what this is all about.”