Students taking new class to feel the heat |

Students taking new class to feel the heat

Christine Stanley/Sierra SunTruckee High senior Sam Silver hauls a fire hose up and down a flight of stairs while wearing a 50 lb vest. Silver and his class mates took part in a fire fighter agility test on Thursday as part of a new fire science careers course at the high school.

Truckee teens interested in becoming firefighters are getting a head start through a new program at Tahoe Truckee High School.

The Fire Science Careers class takes students through 540 hours of classroom and hands-on instruction that includes learning about fire behavior, station organization, CPR and an opportunity to shadow a fire fighter at the Truckee Fire Protection District.

“I’ve wanted to be a firefighter since I was a little kid and I thought that this class would help me to get closer to what I want to become,” said senior Aldo Xochihua. “The physical training pushes me to get stronger and the paramedic info can help me if I want to get a different job.”

The program has been running in schools on Nevada County’s west side for five years, but it is the first year that it’s being offered in Truckee.

“It seems like a very worthy way to expand our influence in the community, and the school district is totally behind it and excited,” said Captain Meredith Watson, who’s teaching the class.

The Tahoe Truckee Unified School District’s administrators and teachers have been discussing alternative career opportunities for quite some time, noting that many Truckee and North Shore students do not go on to college and that more emphasis should be placed on linking them with local career options.

“I wasn’t planning on going to college and this is the only thing that ever came up for me that’s been a real opportunity,” said senior Garrett Schnieder, noting that the fire science course is proving to be more valuable to him than some of the academic classes he is taking.

“I had to write a paper on poetry,” he said. “Where am I going to use that?”

The fire science class will run three-hours a day for the entire school year. In the first semester students focus primarily on book work, but two days a week they will be at the Truckee Fire Station 92 for physical drills, according to Randi Scott, assistant superintendent for the Placer County Office of Education.

During the second semester, students will be placed at the local fire stations four days a week to work, Scott said. They will be CPR certified and will receive Sierra College articulation credits, meaning that they can get credit for attending the course at Sierra College later if they choose to enroll in the fire academy.

Course participants will not come away with their fire fighter certification, Watson said, but they will be more prepared to succeed at the fire academy, should they be selected to attend.

“I just wanted to check it out and get into it,” Schnieder said. “It’s going to be a great foot in the door.”

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