The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Program teaches students about firefighting careers

By Allison Dooley/reporter

Students enrolled in the Fire Academy on NW Campus experience a challenging and demanding career opportunity.

The 14-week program combines vigorous physical training, intense classroom studies and on-site instruction with fire equipment for students seeking to earn a firefighting certificate.

Firefighters have long been glamorized in movies like Backdraft and Ladder 49, but Hollywood often fails to show the hours of studying, physical training, hard work and dedication it takes to become a firefighter.

Spending two days at the fire academy observing and watching the daily activities the students went through can help one gain a better understanding of the program and why students want to become firefighters, knowing that someday they might need to enter a house engulfed in flames to save a complete stranger’s life.

While most TCC students are waking up for their 8 a.m. class, the academy students are already working. Class begins at 7:15 a.m. with a mile-and-a-half run and numerous exercises. After a quick shower, students head for the classroom training. Hazardous material, firefighting techniques and gas leaks are just a few topics studied.

“We learn a lot of valuable information in the classroom,” student Shaun Pybas said.

After a morning of classroom studies and exams, students spend the afternoons getting hands-on training at various locations in the facility.

A working fire station allows students to become familiar with fire trucks and learn to use the apparatus, hoses and equipment on board as well as the necessary gear a firefighter wears. The facility also has various homes, buildings and strip malls that can be set ablaze using a computer program, giving students scenarios to use the skills they learn.

“It’s a good thing that a lot of time is spent doing hands-on activities,” said student Trey Christensen. “We get many different situations and scenarios.”

Class ends around 5 p.m., only after students split up into groups and take turns on station duties, such as cleaning the station, making equipment checks, washing the fire trucks and making sure everything is where it should be.

“We are using the command structure that you would use in a real fire station,” Christensen said.

Just like at a real fire station, the 24 members of each class elect a captain and lieutenants. Together, the lieutenants and captain use leadership skills to keep the class a close-knit group and emphasize teamwork.

“It’s a tight brotherhood,” said student Dustin Burnett. “Working together, you really become a family.”

The academy uses full-time firefighters from area cities as instructors. Students say they can learn from these professionals.

“Instructors expect things to get done. They expect us to use the skills and experiences they teach us so we become competent firefighters,” Christensen said.

When asked about the class, Christensen said, “The physical part is the hardest. It is very physically demanding.”

Even though the class pushes students to their limits, Christensen said the students are up to the challenge.

“It’s a privilege to be here,” class Lt. Billy Hill said.

Most students in class agree it takes a special personality to be a firefighter.

“It’s not a career for everyone. Most of us in class have a strong desire and intensity to be firefighters,” class Capt. Cody Smith said.

Donate to The Collegian

Your donation will support the student journalists of Tarrant County College. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Collegian