Lifestyle

Fire Academy Coming to Pflugerville ISD

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High school seniors attending Henderson High School next year could be eligible to participate in the brand new cooperative action between Pflugerville ISD and the Pflugerville Fire Department – Firefighter training – beginning in the 2017-2018 school year.

Firefighter training - young woman carrying a fire hose up the tower stairs

Photo: Flickr/Fort Rucker

Students graduating from the program can earn up to eight certifications, including a capstone Texas Firefighter Certification from the Texas Commission on Fire Protection. The program is the only joint program of its type in Central Texas. The program, which will be a year in length, accelerates the ability for graduating students to start a prestigious career in firefighting. The program combines face-to-face classes, online classes, and hands-on training.

At this time, the program will only be available to approximately sixteen students entering their senior year of high school at Henderson High School in the 2017-2018 school year. The students will be chosen based on grade point average, teacher recommendations, and attendance.  The class will meet every day for ninety minutes. Certifications from the class include the 40-hour Red Cross certification (including Basic First Aid and CPR), National Incident Management System (NIMS) training, Traffic Incident Management, and more.

Firefighter training - learning to use the jaws of life

Photo: By NASA/Daniel Casper

According to the Pflugerville ISD, students participating in this class have a great chance of being hired on by the ever growing Pflugerville Fire Department.

“Given the involvement and partnership with TCESD No. 2, these students will also become prime recruits for continuing their training and also for potential careers in firefighting,” said Ryan Merritt, PfISD director of career and technical education.

TCESD No. 2, also known as Pflugerville Fire Department, brought the concept to PfISD with the vision of gradually establishing fire academies throughout PfISD at all of the high schools. Henderson High School was chosen for the pilot program due to the enthusiasm of the staff as well as the experience of PfISD’s 2016 District Teacher of the Year, Mike Baker.

Mr. Baker has been chosen as the classroom instructor. Baker has more than 36 years of experience as a firefighter and served as the fire chief for Copperas Cove Fire Department before joining the staff at Hendrickson High School as an engineering design instructor.

Firefighter Training

Photo: By English: Mike Kaplan, U.S. Air Force

Allison Strupeck, Fire Department Public Information Officer, commended PfISD for embracing the opportunity. This program is one of the several steps the fire department has made in recent months to deepen its partnership with PfISD.

“We are excited about the prospect of preparing local students for a gainful and meaningful career soon after graduating high school,” Strupeck said. “We are going to take a serious look at these academy graduates to potentially work right here for their hometown fire department.”

“This means that within a year of finishing high school, these academy graduates could be earning close to $50,000 plus excellent benefits in a stable profession that makes our community safer,” she said.

Firefighter training - Pflugerville firefighter lowering stretcher from a building

Photo: Facebook/Pflugerville Fire Department

Classroom time will be split between hands-on training, classroom training, and stringent physical fitness training. Each week, Pflugerville Fire Department will bring firefighters, firetrucks, and firefighting gear to the high school to teach the hands-on skills needed to pass the certification tests at the end of the year. The program will culminate with skills testing in June led by the fire department at its training field, including fighting a live fire.

Firefighter training - Pflugerville firefighters training inside the tower

Photo: Facebook/Pflugerville Fire Department

Students interested in learning more about the Fire Academy at Hendrickson High School should contact Cassandra Jackson, lead counselor, at (512) 594-1120 or [email protected]. Enrollment begins this spring semester for the 2017-2018 school year.