The Henderson County Fire Academy at Blue Ridge Community College has combined more than 20 mini-courses into a single comprehensive course. The unified format will span nearly three months and create a simpler experience for students while promoting camaraderie.
Blue Ridge Fire and Rescue Coordinator Casey Silvers believes this change will streamline the certification process for aspiring firefighters while also providing opportunities for other first responders seeking varying types of training.
“The North Carolina Office of the State Fire Marshal took those 26 original courses, condensed them into 14, and arranged them in a logical series,” Silvers said.
The new format requires students to pay only one course fee, as opposed to multiple course fees plus the cost of books. Instructors will test students on different required subjects throughout the course to ensure a high level of retention, and students will receive credit for all topics completed. The same group of students will progress through the academy from start to finish.
The Fire Academy will train students in courses such as Firefighter I and Firefighter II. In addition to fire training, students will also learn emergency medical scenarios, traffic and incident management, rescue certifications like rope, water and trench rescues, hazardous materials, and much more.
Fire Academy graduate Victoria Cortes also praised the new academy format. In 2016, Cortes graduated at the top of her Fire Academy class as the only female graduate. Cortes now works as the Emergency Management Planner with Henderson County Emergency Services.
“I think the reorganization of the Fire Academy will really benefit the students by keeping the group on track, promoting teamwork, and forging bonds between participants,” she said.
“Previously folks could pop in and take a single class they needed, which could disrupt the coursework as it injects new people, and they may not have the same foundation as those in the academy,” she added. “These students will learn to depend on each other, and that will foster better engagement as a crew.”
At the Fire Academy’s completion, students will receive their professional Firefighter I and II certification through the State of North Carolina. The certification also transfers to International Fire Service Accreditation Congress (IFSAC) programs.
This year’s Fire Academy starts June 6 and runs until Aug. 31, with graduation set for Sept. 2.
Registration is now open for the Henderson County Fire Academy at Blue Ridge Community College. Visit www.blueridge.edu/fire-academy to learn more and register online.