BCCC offers fire training program for high schoolers

WASHINGTON, N.C. (WITN)- A partnership between Beaufort County Community College and the school system is igniting opportunities for high schoolers in Eastern Carolina. The program offers teens a direct pathway into the field of firefighting.

Starting next school year, juniors and seniors at Washington High School and Northside High School can enroll in a free firefighter training program at Beaufort County Community College.

Fire and Emergency Management Training Director Ray Harris says the goal is to get students who will turn 18 by the end of the program.

“They are graduating, there’s that piece they have their high school diploma, they’ve turned 18 and now they are certified and ready for the workforce,” Harris said.

BCCC will provide all the necessary equipment. This will make the program accessible for more students and give them a chance to dive into the field.

Washington Fire-Rescue-EMS Battalion Chief Jonathan Patterson says this is always needed.

“These high school programs will allow them to get those accomplishments behind them and when they graduate high school they will be fully prepared to start applying if they want to become a full-time firefighter/EMS they will be credentialed and ready to do so,” Patterson said.

Statewide there is a tremendous need for both career and volunteer firefighters.

“The last class that we graduated with our night academy we had 8 students and had 100 percent placement within jobs throughout eastern North Carolina. We have people calling us when those academies are going on, hey who you got who getting ready to graduate and to give recommendations so that is a continuing effort to meet that need,” Harris said.

At Washington High School, academies will accommodate not only seniors at the school but students from private and homeschooling backgrounds as well.

According to Harris, if students are interested in the program they can contact their guidance counselors who can direct them to the ongoing registration.