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Fulton High School partners with fire department to offer firefighter course


Fulton High School will begin offering a course next school year for students interested in firefighting as a career.

Beginning in the fall, interested seniors will be eligible to take Firefighter 1 and 2 through a partnership with the Fulton Fire Department.

Battalion Chief Todd Gray said students who take the course will graduate high school fully qualified to be a firefighter in the State of Missouri.

"They could graduate in May and get a job at a fire department in June," Gray said. "That's our goal."

Students who take the course can earn their CPR certification and HAZMAT Operations and Awareness certification.

They will also learn basic firefighting skills such as setting up ladders and rolling hoses, and even do some live burn training. Gray said students will practice putting out ground cover fires, rubbish fires, motor vehicle fires and structure fires. He said the Columbia Fire Department will allow them to practice at its Training Academy.

When students are finished with the course, they will be able to take the state test to become certified.

Gray said the fire department approached Fulton Schools about the partnership after it has seen a decline in qualified firefighter applicants.

"We thought it was an opportunity to try to educate some kids and get them involved in the fire service and help out our problem," Gray said.

He said the fire department was recently able to hire four firefighters and is now fully-staffed at 24 firefighters. But he said this class could help the department bring in qualified candidates in the future.

"This gives us an opportunity to keep it local," Gray said. "One of the things we've realized is that if they're local, then they tend to stay."

The class will take place at the fire department on Tennyson Road, with seven state-certified instructors on the Fulton Fire Department. Fulton Public Schools Superintendent Ty Crain said the course will operate as a school flex program, meaning students will sign out to come to class and be taught by real firefighters.

"We're really trying to maximize the opportunities that we can provide for kids with that school flex to where they can earn credit, but also be able to earn some job skills and go work at some different jobs," Crain said.

He said there will be a school liaison who works with the course instructors to make sure students are still attending and participating.

"This is really beyond just a school program," Crain said. "This is something that we're expecting them to be able to get certification for to benefit them once they get out of school."

Crain said there are currently seven students interested in taking the course in the fall. The course will be limited to 5-10 students to ensure a good student to teacher ratio.

Gray said National Fire Protection Standard equipment will cost the fire department about $3,200-$3,500 per student. He said the fire department is currently soliciting funds and looking at grants to help pay for the gear. Once it's bought, it will be used by students each year.

Meanwhile, Crain said the Fulton School Board will be setting aside money in next year's budget to help pay some of the instructors that may put in time outside of their normal hours to teach the class.

A message from Fulton Public Schools to families said the course will take about two class periods during the day.

Interested juniors should inform high school staff as soon as possible. Interested Fulton High School juniors should reach out to a high school counselor or Marena Crawford for more information.

Article Topic Follows: Fulton

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Morgan Buresh

Morgan is an evening anchor and reporter who came to ABC 17 News in April 2023.


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