by Al Hooper
Starting this school year, seniors and juniors in the Northshore School District will be able to participate in a new vocational offering that introduces the basics of fire and life safety.
Woodinville Fire and Life Safety District, the Bothell Fire Department, and the Northshore School District are joining together to provide a comprehensive program that will teach students a variety of skills needed by today's firefighters.
The program, starting for the 1996-97 school year, is designed to give students a head start in earning their degree from a college, or in pursuing a career directly after graduation from high school.
Inspired by a similar offering available in the Edmonds School District attended by several Northshore seniors, district officials decided it was time to implement a course at Woodinville High School.
"It's a good deal for the district, it's a good deal for the students, and it's a good deal for Northshore schools," said Mark Emery, Woodinville battalion chief in charge of training. "This is a pretty good partnership, providing a program that gets the Northshore school district interested in the fire service and offers a good head start."
The Woodinville fire district has contracted with Northshore to provide the students with a curriculum, access to firefighting apparatus, breathing apparatus, instructional media, testing materials, tools, administrative support, and other student materials as needed.
Bothell's Fire Department will also provide support, hosting various activities at their stations, lending their fire trucks and equipment as needed. This will be done on a rotating basis with Woodinville's Fire District, allowing each district to maintain maximum service to their communities while giving students a hands-on learning experience.
Program to give a 'competitive edge'
The program, called Fire and Life Safety, will start with a two-hour-per-day class. Emery anticipates that a student who completes 720 hours (two years) will have a very competitive edge over other entrants at selected state colleges, and graduates of the program will be able to meet the requirements for advanced placement in those colleges.
Northshore's course will directly address the National Fire Protection Association standard for qualifications required of a newly hired firefighter, including CPR and first aid training, fire chemistry, hydraulics, fire safety drills, inspection practices, code enforcement, and many others. In addition, graduates will gain the confidence of a well-trained member of a Fire and Life Safety team.
The chief instructor for the program, Dwight Schultz, a retired Kirkland battalion chief, was hired recently, and adjunct instructors will be hired primarily from Bothell and Woodinville to assist.
About 20 students have registered for the program, and if this first year is successful, the school district may add a second class in 1998.
"This program will help make them very competitive at getting hired in the fire service," Emery added. "There's a whole lot of stuff they're going to be learning."
Jeff Switzer also contributed to this report.