Texas fire academy preps students for a fire service career
The Midland Fire Department offers fire and EMS training to high school juniors to prepare them for jobs after graduation
MIDLAND, Texas — The thought of what lies ahead after graduation doesn't have to be a curiosity for high school students. Among Career and Technical Education's many offerings is one that can spark an especially bright future starting junior year.
Midland ISD students have the opportunity to receive firefighter and EMT training and earn certifications as part of the dual-credit program at Midland College. In cooperation with the college and City of Midland, students get hands-on training over the course of their junior and senior years.
"They get the same training as our adult students," Capt. Ryan Collier, associate professor of Emergency Medical Services & Fire Science Technology at Midland College, said in a news release. "They also get the same certifications, which gets them ready for jobs in firefighting once they graduate high school."
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The dual-credit program has been in place since 2021 and out of the first graduating class, two MISD students have gone on to work for the Midland Fire Department. Collier, who remains active with MFD, says he's thrilled they joined.
"To see my students join us at MFD, that's definitely a 'proud dad' moment for me," he said. And it shows a major goal for the program has been achieved. "We always need firefighters, and our hope is to have more students stay in Midland and join our local fire department."
Even MFD Chief Charles Blumenauer is excited.
"This program is a win-win for the community. It allows the Midland Fire Department to have a larger local pool of candidates, and graduates can begin a great career right out of high school," he said. "We get to see them training and working with other firefighters and instill in them immediately the culture of professionalism of the Midland Fire Department. We look forward to the continued growth of this program."
The program teaches more technical skills than firefighting. MFD requires all firefighters to be EMT certified, so seniors prepare for the Emergency Medical Technician Basic Certification exam, which they can take after they have their high school diploma.
The soft skills students learn are also incredibly important.
"Probably the number one thing we teach in this program is accountability," Collier said. "Firefighting is a dangerous profession. Are you checking your gear? Are you prepared? Are you following proper procedure? The team is relying on you to keep yourself safe and to keep them safe. We all look out for each other so we can be successful when serving the community, and accountability can be lifesaving."
There's also the sense of camaraderie that comes with being a firefighter.
"We're a tight group, and we talk a lot about what it's like at the fire station because a lot of life's moments happen there," Collier said. "Much of our time is devoted to the job, so things like Thanksgiving, Christmas and birthday parties, we often all celebrate together at the station. We're really a big family, and it's part of what makes being a firefighter great."
Starting the process in high school is something Collier says he wishes he had the opportunity to do. "I would have loved to have been able to begin my journey to becoming a firefighter at 16, even if it were just to explore it as a career.
"And with the strong connection between the program and MFD, I tell all of my students that their two-year interview process starts now."