The next generation of firefighters will get a head start on their careers, thanks to a partnership between a community college, a city and several school districts.
Southeast High School junior Blaise Prewitt says he’s recently started thinking about firefighting as a career.
“I became really interested in it just this past month thinking about it,” says Blaise Prewitt.
Blaise says if he does end up becoming a firefighter, he’ll be carrying on a family tradition.
“When my dad was training for fire fighting he actually took his EMT classes in Girard, and so I went with him there and I learned a lot there, and he just keeps talking about it,” says Blaise Prewitt.
Thanks to a partnership between Coffeyville Community College, the city of Pittsburg and several local high schools, students like Blaise may be able to get a head start on becoming the next generation of first responders.
“In Coffeyville, we currently run fire science classes during the high school day for high school students, and hoping that some of those students will either go into the fire service careers or the EMS/paramedic career,” says Dr. Marlon Thornburg, VP for Innovation and Business Initiatives, Coffeyville Community College.
Thursday, the Pittsburg Fire Department hosted an open house for high school kids from across Southeast Kansas, to explore how that program could work for kids in Cherokee and Crawford counties, and hopefully reverse a growing trend.
“It’s a regional thing where the volunteer numbers are down for fire departments, the career numbers are down, and so it’s important that we strike the interest on this younger generation,” says Mike Simons, Chief, Pittsburg Fire Department.
The program would be open to high school juniors and seniors, and would have the students coming to the Pittsburg Fire Department for part of the day to learn. Blaise says he’s already considering taking the classes when they’re offered next year, which would put him on a path to some day work alongside his dad.
“When he was training, he was like, ‘Blaise, fire fighting is a great opportunity to do stuff,’ and I was like, ‘OK, maybe I want to do that,’” says Prewitt.