September 13, 2004 -- Homerooms are out. Battalions are in.
Call it a sign of the times in New York City 85 ninth-graders will start school today at a new Fire Department-themed high school in Brooklyn called The High School for Fire and Life Safety.

Reading and math are, of course, part of the curriculum but so are first aid, fire safety and community service in the area of emergency response.

The school promises to give its students the basis for a career in firefighting and paramedics, although graduates are not required to enter those fields and would require additional training to do so.

Upon graduation, students will have the chance to become certified emergency medical technicians.

"We want to instill in them a solid educational foundation filled with honor, integrity, duty and all the tenets that the New York City Fire Department represents," said Fire Department spokeswoman Virginia Lam.

Mayor Bloomberg and Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta are expected to be on hand today at the East New York school to officially open its doors.



The five boroughs boast dozens of theme schools in the areas of art, music, science, business and fashion.

But playing on the hero status of firefighters and emergency responders could have only been conceived in a post-9/11 world of federal color-coded terror alerts.

The school is one of 53 "mini-high schools" opening today around the city most in existing schoolhouses and is part of a larger plan by the city Department of Education to move away from huge all-purpose high schools.

The HS for Fire and Life Safety is located in Thomas Jefferson High, which has about 1,600 students and is slated to be gradually phased out as future classes are added to Fire High.

At the school, students will be divided up into four "battalions" and like firehouses around the city will create a name and a patch to identify them.

Their uniforms are not exactly the brass-buckled dress blues and whites, but an emphasis will be placed on looking sharp in all-blue slacks and shirts.

Three retired firefighters two men, one woman will staff a resource room and a library, and will be prepared to answer questions about the profession and offer career advice. Boys constitute about 70 percent of the inaugural class.

Regional Superintendent Kathleen Cashin, who counts three firefighters in her family, said the school is just what East New York needs.

"The children here deserve to have one leg up on everybody else when it comes to getting in the Fire Department," Cashin said. "It's a phenomenal career with a tremendous sense of community and loyalty."




Wish we had this growin up