RANDOLPH COUNTY, N.C. -- In most rural areas, fire departments are made up of mostly volunteers.
But across the Piedmont in areas like Randolph County, fewer people have been signing up, causing local colleges to try to help with recruiting.
Next month, Randolph Community College will start its High School Fire Academy.
From Feb. 2 through May 14, students ages 16 and up will learn how to put out fires, handle equipment and fire safety.
Classes will run for three hours, three times a week after school and sometimes on Saturdays.
Students will earn credits towards becoming a certified firefighter once they turn 18.
It's an idea Randolph County Fire Marshall Erik Beard says comes at a good time.
"There's been a sharp decrease in the number of young volunteers," Beard said. "Anything that can be used as a recruitment tool, especially to the younger generation, would certainly be helpful."
In Randolph County, the number of volunteer firefighters has dropped 10 percent over the last five years.
The first informational session was held Thursday at Providence Grove High School.
Two more informational sessions are scheduled for later this month.
On Jan. 27, students and parents can get information at Trinity High School at 6 p.m.
The last informational session will be held on Jan. 29 at 6 p.m. at Southwestern Randolph High School.