In Firefighter 1, New Britain High School juniors and seniors are learning what it’s like to be a firefighter. The elective fire service class is helping to make New Britain youth career and college ready.
“It is meant for juniors and seniors that have an interest in pursuing a career in firefighting after high school,” said New Britain Fire Dept. Lt. Don King. “They meet five days and week with a teacher and one day a week a fire representative comes down to help them learn hands-on activities.”
Activities can range from dealing with various apparatus, understanding what jobs are on the truck or learning what types of calls are responded to by fire personnel.
“The whole idea is safety and what a ladder truck does,” said Kevin Williams, NBHS teacher.
This year, students have been to fire department headquarters, met with the fire chief, understand the rank structure and last Tuesday went to the Fire Academy in Windsor Locks to see firefighters in training.
“They get to see what it takes to make it in the academy,” said Williams.
For some, this class is leading to a career.
“You have to learn all the things you can from firefighters” said Mark Tendleo, student. “You learn what it is like to rescue someone from a fire or CPR call.”
Some students go on to take the Connecticut Physical Assessment Test (CPAT).
“You do a lot of work like carrying saws and carrying a 180 pound dummy a certain length to make sure you can carry a body,” said Tendleo. “You need to have stamina and keep it at a certain pace for the emergency. It needs to be done if you want a career in firefighting.”
Steve Voronchak, student, said in Europe his father was a firefighter, and he understands how bad fires can be as he has second degree burns himself.
“I don’t want to see anyone else suffer like that,” Voronchak said. “I want to go to a college that has firefighting courses.”
Although the class falls on the last period of the day, it is one students look forward to all day.
“By eighth period kids want to go home, but I look forward to going to this class,” said Voronchak. “It’s interesting.”
The end of the year, the class culminates the project with Prom Promise.
“It’s a mock drinking and driving class,” said Lt. King. “They write the script, they act the parts of victims and rescue workers.”
“The last three of four years it has been over the top,” said Williams. “The kids do power point brochures, make fake bottles of alcohol and fake blood. They do a whole bunch of stuff to make it work out. The kids do a really great job.”
The senior class views the Prom Promise event in awe.
“It’s done on a nice day and once the scenario starts you can hear a pin drop,” said Lt. King. “The kids jaws are dropping because this class does a great job. It’s incredible. Last year we videotaped it. The kids need to come up with a wow factor because every year it is bigger and better.”
“The class is an opportunity for high school kids to actually learn about a career,” said Williams. “Some kids in class have figured out how to be mature. It shows the kids that if you want to be successful that maturity is the main thing. This is a real world job.”
Students are encouraged to continue their career and even perhaps one day become a firefighter right here in New Britain.
“A couple of students have gone through the programs and became volunteers,” said Lt. King. “No one that has gone through has become a firefighter in New Britain, but that is our goal.”
Before Chief Mark Carr retired, he acquired the Firefighter Manpower Grant and some of these students might be eligible for that.
“I’ve mentored students in the past so they can call me anytime,” said Lt. King.