LANSING, Mich. — The Lansing Fire Department and the Lansing School District are coming together to make the path to becoming a first-responder accessible to city kids by offering a unique training program.
The Fire Science Academy is a two-year program aimed at giving local kids a leg up by training them as firefighters and EMTs. It has been operating for two years.
Luz Vera is in her second year of training and says she is planning to pursue more first-responder training after high school.
For her, the experience has been about “building a bond with new people - some people I already knew - sticking together even after we graduated, having a sense of family together," she said. "Now I’m currently in EMT class and after that later on in college I will take on paramedic training," said Vera.
Academy instructor Rahshemeer Neal says he wishes a program like it existed when he was in high school.
“These kids right here in this program get to start off with a career early in their life. Even without a college degree they can come out of this program and be able to qualify for the state of Michigan fire test," Neal said.
Neal says the program sets students up for a lifelong career of serving the community and that salaries for firefighters and EMTs start off over $40,000.
The Fire Science Academy brings students from the district’s high schools to the Alfreda Schmidt Community Center on Wise Road for three hours Monday through Friday.
By the time that the students complete the program, they will have more hours than the state requires to take the certification test.
“Its fun, but there’s definitely times when its hard. Its just a matter of focusing and getting better at what you need to get better at. Also keeping calm under pressure," student Dayveon Thomas said.
Thomas and his classmates learn all kinds of life-saving skills including CPR. They practice drills and learn how to put on their gear properly.
Students have to meet certain requirements in order to become part of the academy including maintaining a 2.0 GPA and having a good attendance record.
Neal and his cadets are hosting an appreciation dinner for parents and community members on Saturday.
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