Valerie is one of the many students participating in The Fire Academy at Coral Springs High, a joint venture between the school and the Coral Springs Fire Academy. The 3-year program is designed for students who are interested in becoming firefighters or paramedics.
"I want to be a firefighter. This program is perfect, because I've learned to cooperate with others to reach a common goal," Valerie said. "As far as what is expected of us: teamwork and dedication. The fire program has taught me that when it comes to working with others in the fire service, differences are put aside. It's all about working toward saving lives."
Christopher LaLane, a Coral Springs High junior, was recently promoted to class leader. Although he is aware the job demands responsibility, he said he considers it a step to becoming a better leader.
Teaching various rope knots, vital signs to look for in emergencies, fire behavior and the importance of teamwork, The Fire Academy at Coral Springs High has proven valuable to students.
"Regardless of what career you choose, all aspects of this program can be used for future career paths," said junior Tessa Willis. "It's a super program for high school students in general because they get a chance to learn about something they may want a career in. Not only that, but the entire course is free with the prospective opportunity to become a certified Emergency Medical Responder Firefighter I."
Students may apply to the program in the 10th grade.
For the Coral Springs High program, Deputy Chief Frank Babinec broke down the curriculum for a Firefighter I class into a three-year high school class.
The first two years cover knowledge of firefighter material. The third year entails an off-campus education experience at the Fire Academy for free.
"The Firefighter I curriculum includes all of the basic firefighter fundamentals and skills a volunteer firefighter would need to know. The CSHS fire program is a stage of advancement to the Firefighter II class, able to be taken at the academy once all three years at the high school are completed," instructor Zachary Roseboom said.
Roseboom said the fire program was established to give youth a better understanding at an earlier age and help them develop an idea for a future career.