Sunday | November 19, 2017
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‘A good learning tool’; Honolulu FD donates pumper truck to Hawaii Community College

It isn’t too often fire science students at Hawaii Community College get to tinker with the inner workings of a pumper truck engine, or learn hydraulics by blasting water through an actual fire hose.

But soon, that’s changing.

This week, the college officially welcomed a decommissioned 1989 Seagrave pumper truck to campus, donated by the Honolulu Fire Department. It will be used by students in HCC’s fire science and diesel mechanics programs and came along with other equipment including nozzles and adapters.

Young Brothers shipped the flaming yellow engine last week for free from Oahu.

“This is very exciting for us,” said fire science instructor Jack Minassian. “This isn’t common because these (trucks) are quite expensive. Obviously, most colleges can’t afford to purchase one, and many are out of service and not operational. So this is definitely kind of unique.”

Minassian said the truck will help supplement traditional classroom work with hands-on training. Students will use it in practice operations and also to gain general familiarity with the pumper truck’s parts, such as its breaks, engine and pumps.

Department spokesman Capt. Kevin Mokulehua said the truck was purchased years ago new at nearly $158,000 and was last stationed at the Pearl City station on Oahu — one of its busiest stations.

The department also donated a truck to Honolulu Community College. Both vehicles would have been scrapped or auctioned had they not been donated, Mokulehua said. The department has a 15-year usage limit before vehicles are retired as relief or training tools. Eventually, they’re sent for disposal. That’s when the department learned both community colleges were in need.

“We’d rather provide an apparatus to the program rather than scrap it,” Mokulehua said. “It’s a good learning tool, and it’s definitely going to benefit the students because they’re using a real truck rather than just book exercises. If you can actually get hands-on training, that’s all the better.”

HCC’s fire science program is only a couple of years old, but already one of the most popular programs on campus. There currently are 102 students enrolled, and Minassian said demand for graduates on the Big Island is high, as the area’s population grows.

The college’s 20-some diesel mechanics students also are benefiting from the flashy yellow donation. Diesel instructor Mitchell Soares said students will start dissembling, adjusting and inspecting the unit’s systems right away — HCC’s diesel students will use the truck during the spring semester and in the fall will hand it over to the fire students.

“This is very good for us,” Soares said. “Students nowadays are more hands-on than the books and video-type of thing. So, that’s the type of learning we do, and that’s why these kinds of projects are really vital to this course.”

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