Guildford County, N.C. (WGHP) — For 24 hours a day, fire departments across the state dispatch crews to battle intense flames and help at traffic crashes and other emergencies. Many of them are short-staffed and are struggling to recruit.
Guilford County Schools is launching a program to get high school students ready for the front lines once they get their high school diplomas.
If you want to be a firefighter, you don’t fill out an application, show up and hop inside a firetruck. There are certifications needed, and it takes time to get people ready to respond. On Wednesday, some Ragsdale High School students learned how they can speed things up.
“I don’t want to sit and wait about my career,” said Chanelle Rose, a junior at Ragsdale High School.
College is not for everyone, but launching straight into a career after high school can be overwhelming.
Rose is hoping to be one of the first students enrolled in a new fire cadet program.
Students would spend three hours every day all year training. They will be in the classroom and out in the field learning fire firefighter basics like operating hoses, medical care and problem-solving. Everything except actually putting out the fire.
Firefighters in departments across Guilford County and GTCC instructors will be the trainers.
“This is a good way for us to get out and start to promote this career,” said Joel Davis, the GTCC Fire Protection Technology program director.
Davis was at Ragsdale High School on Wednesday speaking with students about the opportunity.
They all had a different reason to be a fire cadet. For Dallas Chilton, it’s personal.
“My grandpa was a firefighter chief, so it’s in my family,” firefighting and something I want to do,” Chilton said.
At the end of the course, students who pass will receive their North Carolina Firefighter Certification. The only thing they will need before working at a station is a fire control class, which is basically live fire training.
“Learning and actually experiencing being a firefighter,” Chilton said. “It’s going to make it a lot easier for the process.”
It will also be easier for departments to find the firefighters they need. Right now, Greensboro has 24 vacancies, which is about 4 percent of its department.
While over in Pinecroft-Sedgefiled, Chief Carson says they are fully staffed, but nothing is guaranteed.
“That could change tomorrow, so that is the constant challenge these fire departments are facing…rying to bring new people in,” said Chief Derek Carson from the Pinecroft-Sedgefield Fire Department.
He is excited about this new program bringing in new recruits.
Guilford County Schools will launch the new Fire Cadet Program at Ragsdale, Andrews, Southeast and Southern High Schools this fall.
For the first year, they have room for about 20 students. Any students at those schools who are interested, need to sign up at their school.