A program at three of Greenville County Schools’ career centers aims to stoke the flames of student interest in firefighting as a potential career.
The Bonds, Golden Strip and Enoree career centers all offer two-year certification-level training for high school-aged students. Certification allows students to go directly into the workforce for a fire department as a paid firefighter or a volunteer without having to attend the South Carolina Fire Academy.
Many of the fire departments in the state rely on volunteers to provide service. Officials say the number of volunteer firefighters in South Carolina is dropping, making it harder for municipalities with career fire departments to find qualified applicants.
The Greenville Fire Department recently relaxed its firefighter requirements to give new hires a year to earn emergency medical technician training – a certification that was once a condition for employment because the department provides first response.
The South Carolina Firefighters Association recently gave $7,500 to each of the career centers offering firefighter certification.
The program is part of Superintendent Burke Royster’s push to have all students either college- or career-ready when they graduate from high school.
By the numbers
1,140,7590 firefighters nationwide
354,600 career firefighters
(U.S. Fire Department Profile latest statistics)