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Agawam firefighter graduates from state fire academy

Date: 11/7/2014

AGAWAM – The Agawam Fire Department welcomed back one of its own Nov. 4, but this time when Robert Menard Jr. walked through the doors, he was a Massachusetts Firefighting Academy graduate.

Menard, 28, was one of 23 recruits who graduated on Oct. 31 as part of the nine-week academy training.

Those who graduated had to pass the major areas of training: life safety, search and rescue, ladder operations, water supply, pump operation and fire attack.

Graduates are certified to Firefighter I and II levels.

While the training took place in Stow, Menard lived with the Shrewsbury Fire Department.

“I hung out with the guys out there a lot too, and they actually helped me with training too, so definitely big kudos to them,” Menard said.

Menard said the academy was an informative experience and a great chance to make friends across the state, but there was no doubt when it came down to his favorite part.

“Putting out fires,” he said with a smile. “Most of that happened toward the end, so they build you up to it, but they have a lot of cool props up there that they use to teach us.”

Before the academy, Menard had worked in the ambulances as an EMT, as well as spending more than five years with Baystate Medical Center in Springfield.

Though he decided on his career path eight years ago, a history of firefighting and nurses made the medical field, and eventually firefighting, “a good choice.” Menard has uncles and a cousin in departments in New Hampshire and Western Massachusetts, making it a family affair.

Menard said his family was happy for him when he graduated, but for him, the best part was just coming home and getting to work.

“[I’m excited] just to be back home with friends and family and the guys here,” Menard said. “I consider them both.”