Student Live-In Program

Falmouth Fire-EMS began as a member of the Southern Maine Commuity College (SMCC) Public Safety Live-in Program in August 2009.  The program provides fulltime college students a bunk room at a local Fire Station in return for providing service to the Fire-EMS Department.  There are currently 16 fire departments and 30 fire stations that house SMCC live-in students during the school year.  Falmouth Fire-EMS has six students residing at two stations.
During the school year four students live at the Winn Road Fire Station, Station 4 and two students are housed at the Foreside Fire Station, Station 1.  Each student provides 12 hours of on-duty shift coverage at Central Station each week, in addition to providing on-call volunteer coverage at least 5 nights per week from the Stations when they are not in classes, and a minimum of every other weekend when school is in session.  All 6 students are enrolled as fulltime students in either the Fire Science Degree or Paramedic Degree Programs at SMCC in South Portland and must maintain a minimum “C” average in all classes taken each semester.
The benefit for the students is a unique hands-on learning opportunity. Students live and work in a fire station and respond to calls and train alongside both career and volunteer fire and EMS professionals.  At the end of the program students will have a first-hand knowledge on what it is like to be a firefighter/EMT and will have a basic foundation on which to build if they chose to pursue a career in fire and EMS.

The benefit for the department is an influx of new energy and motivated individuals to help provide the much-needed public safety service to our community. Many of the students who graduate from the program stay in the community and stay active with the department upon their graduation from SMCC.  While in the program the students provide countless hours of coverage and assistance at important functions like fire prevention visits at our schools and daycares across town.

All new live-in students complete an intense interview and background process in May, an orientation program and medical exam in July, and will report to duty in early August.  The student live-ins are selected from over 40 applicants annually from as far away as California and Florida.  In total, nearly 90 students reside in the departments in Cumberland and York Counties. Most students are in the program for a minimum of 2 years, and many enroll in the Paramedic program once they complete the fire science degree program and stay for a 3rd and even a 4th year.
New live-in students spend their first three weeks training vigorously at a Firefighter I and II Academy in August. The Academy covers basic fire skills, completes the Maine Bureau of Labor Standard for performing firefighting functions on emergency scenes, and prepares students to sit for their Pro-Board State of Maine Firefighter Level I and II certification exam in October.  Once the three weeks are completed, the students are ready to start assisting other department members in providing emergency service to the community.  They will attend department trainings and business meetings along with the rest of the membership, and will participate in other areas such as fire prevention, child passenger safety, and life safety inspections.  In the fall, the live-in students will also complete an Emergency Vehicle Operators Course and a Basic Pumps course.

The student live-in program has been around Cumberland County for over 30 years.  Departments such as Gorham and Scarborough have been participants in the program since its inception in 1988.  Since that time, hundreds of students have successfully completed the program, including 6 current members of Falmouth Fire-EMS.  Two of these members currently serve as mentors for the program participants.

Lieutenant Zack Tooker, a graduate of the Falmouth Fire-EMS live-in program and currently a fulltime firefighter/paramedic in South Portland, credits his live-in experience with helping to define his career aspirations. “The experience of living in a working fire house, while in college, not only prepared me for a career in emergency services but also helped define the importance to teamwork and collaboration on a daily basis.”

“This program is a win-win-win for the students, the communities and the college,” said Steve Willis, Southern Maine Community College Fire Science faculty member and Live-In program coordinator. “The students save money on housing because they live for free in the stations; and they receive hands-on training, experience and coaching from Fire Department members that really complements their classroom lessons.”

Both the Winn Road and Foreside Road Fire Stations in Falmouth are less than 15 miles from the SMCC campus in South Portland.  Students have a short commute to campus and are able to live in one of Maine’s most prestigious oceanfront communities.  Attractions in Falmouth are the local harbor and town landing, indoor and outdoor ice skating facilities, cinemas, shopping, library, many parks and recreational facilities, 3 golf courses, and several restaurants.  Students are also be less than 10 minutes from downtown Portland, Maine’s largest city.

Recent graduates of the Falmouth Fire-EMS Live-in Program currently work fulltime for the Brunswick Fire Department, South Portland Fire Department, Portland Fire Department, Westbrook Fire Department, Lewiston Fire Department, Scarborough Fire Department, Maine Medical Center, and the Bellows Falls, Vermont Police Department.

For more information on the Falmouth Fire-EMS Student Live-in Program please contact Captain Eric Hutchings at (207) 781-2610.