GREENSBORO, N.C. – As a figure of speech, you could say teachers have a lot of experience at "putting out fires." However, some are doing that literally.
The Greensboro Fire Department has noticed that dozens of people on its team are former teachers, and the department says their background is filling an important need, especially among new recruits.
"There's a lot of academics in training, and there's a lot of tests and state tests and tests within the Greensboro Fire Department that they have to pass. If they don't have that good instruction, it's hard for them to pass," assistant chief Dwayne Church said.
Captain Chris Heyn is a former Guilford County Schools science teacher.
"It was a surprise to some people. I mean I'd been teaching for 11 or 12 years and I was in my mid-30s and I was becoming a firefighter," he said.
He says his chemistry background has been very beneficial when called in to assist with hazmat situations.
"As a teacher you really have to be able to think on your feet. People are looking for you to kind of take control of the situation. Of course, there's the teaching involved. We train people every day, both in the station or in the classroom," he said.
Captain Nick Loflin is a former Page High School teacher with a background in math and physics.
He still uses his academic expertise but says the social skills he developed through teaching have really paid off.
"Dealing with people and problem solving is about 90 percent of teaching and it's about 100 percent of firefighting," he said.
Heyn and Loflin said they left teaching because they were looking for a faster pace in a field that would still allow them to help people.
The Greensboro Fire Department will welcome its new recruiting class Oct 1. We haven't heard if any former teachers are in that group.