RRPS Fire Academy connects students to the workplace

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A few spots remain for a special academy that’s connecting the classroom with the workforce.

It’s giving high school students the certifications they need to get a head start beginning their careers as firefighters.

Departments throughout the state are seeing a shortage of firefighters, especially firefighter paramedics.

Now the Rio Rancho Public School’s Fire Academy is leading students down a path to get them ready for a career.

“Getting people started early so that they have some direction for what they want to do after high school is a great idea. Plus, they’re receiving college credit and high school credit while taking these classes,” Charles Molinari, Fire Science Program Director at Central New Mexico Community College. 

CNM has partnered with the district to create a fire academy for juniors and seniors.

The goal is to get the students certifications that would allow them to get jobs while they’re still in high school and get ahead of the curve when it comes to getting into a New Mexico fire department.

During the fall semester, students will receive basic wildland firefighting training, plus an introduction to fire science.

Then they’ll go through an emergency responder course during the spring.

During school, Molinari says students will get an early release, two days a week to attend class from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Upon successful completion of the academy, students will have earned nine credits towards their associate’s degree.

They will also be able to work as a wildland firefighter doing seasonal work or volunteer at a department like Dennis Chavez and Shelby Sandoval, who are working with the Corrales Fire Department.

“It has just made me see all the different aspects of firefighting. You don’t just have firefighting, you have EMT and the basics of all that. Where we work, we’re dealing with wildland, structural, and paramedic stuff,” said Shelby Sandoval, Cleveland High School student.

Organizers say they need more students to sign up. There are still spots available.

The first day of class begins August 27.

For information, click here, or call the Secondary Learning Center at 505-896-6613.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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