ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, N.C. -- Rockingham County relies heavily on volunteer fire fighters. But with seventeen stations facing a shrinking volunteer staff, Rockingham County Assistant Fire Marshall Jay Brooks knew he had to reverse the downward trend soon.
"Our department could get so small we could lose state certification," he said.
So officials created the Rockingham County High School Public Safety Fire Academy. 150 students are enrolled in the academy where they learn about the equipment and techniques necessary to become successful fire fighters.
"The Office of the State Fire Marshall set the standards. These kids are getting the same certifications anyone in the state of North Carolina gets" said Rockingham County Fire Academy Fire Chief Josh Evans.
Rockingham County High School senior Shadow Dawson will finish the Fire Academy in June. When she graduates, she will have enough hours and training to get a job with a local fire station.
"I have looked into the Bethany Fire Department" says Dawson "Firefighting is remarkable because you are risking your life to save someone else’s."
In June, 18 students will be a part of the Rockingham County High School Public Safety Fire Academy's first graduating class. Statewide there are 25 high school fire academies.