A collaboration between Aims Community College, the Adams 12 school district and local fire stations hopes to create the next generation of rescue first responders. “I feel it’s important because …
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A collaboration between Aims Community College, the Adams 12 school district and local fire stations hopes to create the next generation of rescue first responders.
“I feel it’s important because they get to experience what firefighting is all about before they decide to pursue a degree in the field of study, “ said John McDougall, fire science program director at Aims Community College. “It also gives them the necessary certification to become a rural reserve, part-time, volunteer firefighter where they can gain valuable experience with what it’s like to serve as a volunteer in a community.”
The program offers fire science classes at Adams 12’s new career and technical campus, FutureForward at Washington Square. Upon graduation, the students have the option of continuing their work at Aims Community College or transferring their credit to another school.
“We are beyond excited, once we work past COVID, I believe this program will be in very high demand and will be given rave reviews by the students and faculty at FutureForward at Washington Square,” McDougall said.
FutureForward program at Washington Square campus opened in Thornton near 126th Avenue at Washington Square last summer. It joined Bollman Tech as the second Career and Technical Education (CTE) facility in the Adams 12 school district.
“We opened our doors in August of 2020. As part of the expansion of our CTE programming we identified a need to offer our students a Firefighting program,” said Marvin Lewis, principal at Future Forward at Washington Square.
Lewis said from 400 to 500 students in the school district were being turned away who were interested in attending the Career and Technical Education program at the Bollman Campus. It was this need that resulted in building FutureForward at Washington Square.
“We were able to utilize Bond funding to plan and open our Washington Square campus that would help alleviate the overflow of students wanting to attend,” said Lewis.
At the Washington Square campus, students can choose both HazMat and Firefighter 1 certifications. Once students graduate high school, they have the option to continue their education at Aims or move their credits to a college of choice. Also, they are prepared for a career in fire service or the military with a skill-set and the basic requirements completed.
“We wanted to offer college credit for the students and we’re able to negotiate support from Aims Community College and their firefighting program,” said Lewis.
Lewis said that for the first semester, which begins Jan. 25, 45 students have enrolled in both remote and in-person firefighting classes four days a week and remote learning on Wednesday’s at the Washington Square campus. The Thornton Fire Department will come into the classroom on Monday’s and Thursday’s to teach the lab skills.
“We are just beginning to register our students for the 2021-2022 school year,” said Lewis.
Both the Thornton and Westminster departments have gotten involved.
“We are excited this semester to participate,” said Stephanie Harparing, Thornton Fire Department, Fire Marshal. “In August 2020, we donated a fire engine to Future Forward for the students to learn. It’s a fire engine that was in service with the Thornton Fire Department with their emblem. The students were excited to get into the fire engine and open all the doors.”.
The Adams 12 school district has five comprehensive high schools and three charter schools. Juniors and Seniors within the district have the opportunity to register for the firefighter program.
“I’m truly excited about the firefighting program and the great opportunity it presents for our students. We continue to work with the City of Thornton Fire and Westminster Fire to develop job shadowing opportunities in the program. We fully anticipate our firefighting students will help bridge the gap in hiring at all the state fire departments,” said Lewis.
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