Warwick Fire Dept. sparks hands-on learning for electrical students

  • Franklin County Technical School electrical students Brandon Jenks and Cameron Chase uses a scissor lift to run wiring at the new Warwick Fire Station on Friday. March 10, 2017. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz—Paul Franz

  • Warwick Fire Station on Friday, March 10, 2017. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz—Paul Franz

  • Recorder Staff/Paul Franz—Paul Franz

Recorder Staff
Published: 3/16/2017 11:15:53 PM

WARWICK — The Franklin County Technical School students are no strangers to Warwick.

Having replaced the ceiling fans in the Warwick Community School’s gymnasium last fall, the technical school’s electrical students are onto their next project: wiring the new Fire Department building.

“It’s kind of our stomping grounds now,” tech school junior Cameron Chase of Conway said of Warwick.

According to the students’ electrical instructor Todd Weed, the students work primarily in town halls, police or fire stations and other municipally-owned buildings, providing towns with “a good deal on a quality installation.”

“We are greeted with open arms wherever we go,” Weed said.

Weed explained the towns cover the cost of materials, plus an additional 20 percent fee, which enables the school to purchase instructional supplies, replenish its tools, cover travel costs and, in the case of the electrical class, purchase a 20-foot trailer to haul tools.

On any given day, Weed said, the students can be found “from Rowe to Orange and anywhere in between.” That, said Tech school junior Dylan Robinson of Orange, allows the class to get a change of scenery while helping the community.

“It’s gonna be fun when we’re done to sit back and really take a look at it,” said tech school junior Joel Farrick of Deerfield about their work at the fire station. “We really helped the fire department.”

At the start of the job four weeks ago, the students said the Warwick station only had two lights, which were operated via an extension cord.

Thus far, the students have installed metal conduits and ran wires through them, added interior lighting and put power outlets on the ceilings and walls. Within the next few weeks they’ll install exterior lights, attic lighting and an emergency generator.

“Even though they’re students, they’re truly apprentice electricians at this point,” Weed said.

The students, all juniors, spent their first two years at the tech school learning basic residential and commercial wiring practices in the school’s shop. In their junior and senior years, the students gain hands-on experience in the trade, which Weed said is “very reflective of what they’ll see in the real world when they go out and do commercial and residential wiring.”

“When you go out to the job, it gets a little bit more complicated, but you already know what you’re doing,” Farrick said. Plus, Weed is always around to provide assistance.

Through their hands-on experience with projects like that at the Warwick fire station, the students can also gain points they’ll need to take a test to become certified journeymen electricians. Weed said many tech school alumni continue to hone their craft at trade colleges, and choose the electrical field as a career.

“Our graduates are spread all over,” Weed said. “We’ve got a lot in this industry, in other parts of the state as well.”

By working together side by side, the students not only work to the benefit of the community and gain hands-on experience, but they also build relationships with their classmates.

“In the long run, we’re all a big family,” Farrick said.

You can reach Shelby Ashline at: sashline@recorder.com

413-772-0261, ext. 257


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