ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – For the first time, the Bernalillo County Fire Department will host an academy specifically for those with firefighting experience. BCFD has started taking applications for an upcoming lateral academy this October.

Previously, lateral hires were required to go through the full 16-week training but this condensed 10-week training course will focus on other skills BCFD firefighters need like rope rescue and vehicle extraction. Firefighters will receive a $2,000 signing bonus while paramedics will get an $8,000 bonus.

BCFD says the lateral academy will not only help fill its ranks, but it’s also a good opportunity for fighters to advance their career or move from a volunteer position to a paid one. “We still want to be able to provide those opportunities for those individuals to move into our ranks and move into our system and be able to serve if that’s what they want to do. They’re really excited about it but maybe they don’t have this one component in their education yet,” said Lt. Robert Arguelles, Bernalillo County Fire Department.

The application period for the lateral academy ends July 30 and applications must have their IFSAC or Pro Board 1 or 2 certification. The academy will be capped at 25 cadets.