3/20/16 Graham High to host firefighter school

Graham High to host firefighter school
By Isaac Groves, The Times-News 3/20/16    
Reprinted with permission.      

   High school students can get an early start on firefighter training at Graham High School starting in the fall.

   The Graham Fire Department and Alamance County Fire Marshall will work with the Alamance-Burlington School System on the new firefighter technology program, said Kent Byrd, senior executive director of secondary school leadership at ABSS.

   Students won’t be doing any live-burn drills or climbing towers, said Robin Bower, ABSS director of career and technical education. They would work toward a basic level 1 firefighter certification.

   Some would be able to graduate with a certificate, and others could finish at Alamance Community College or with a fire department. More departments are looking for firefighters with more training, Bowers said, even four-year degrees, and it helps to start early.

   “So it’s giving our students a leg up,” Bowers said.

   Byrd said he hoped to have 20 to 30 students in the first group, and eventually get that to 40 to 60.

   It will take $20,000 to $25,000 to get the academy started, Byrd said, but he did not think that would be a recurring expense. The academy also would need one new teacher with the credentials to teach firefighting, but Byrd said it would not be an expensive program to begin with.

   One reason for that, Graham Mayor and retired firefighter Jerry Peterman said, is the academy’s access to the Graham Fire Department’s facilities, like its $500,000 fire truck.

   This will be the first phase of a municipal services academy at the school, Byrd said, to teach public service skills like policing and planning.

   That could work well with a proposal to turn GHS into a trade academy open to students from all over the district, Byrd said.

   “We’ve got a grander vision,” he said.