Five students blaze trail in Clay High firefighting course
Upon graduation, they qualify to take the state Firefighter I written exam.
By DEBORAH CEARNAL
Clay County Line
Five seniors at Clay County High School will make school history when they graduate Friday.
Katrina Conner, Jackie McGuirt, Tim Wallace, Kirby Wilkerson and Conner Wright make up the first class of the school's fire academy, a program that will enable them to take the state Firefighter I written exam.
"This [training] we hope will encourage them to join Clay County Fire Rescue or at least volunteer," said Clay County Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Richard Knoff.
Knoff, who is chief for the hazardous materials response team, and Battalion Chief Richard Davis, who is in charge of the department's training, are instructors for the course, which began this year.
The school system previously had provided medical and law enforcement tracks for students. The fire department offered to present its program, which, if students pass, qualifies them to proceed to the second course toward becoming a firefighter.
The program is offered only at Clay High, so Wilkerson must commute from Fleming Island, Conner from Orange Park and Wallace from Lake Asbury. McGuirt and Wright live in Green Cove Springs.
The boys want to be firefighters, while the girls have eyes on careers in the medical field. The girls said they thought this was a good step to learn basics of life-saving techniques.
Conner came to the fire program after completing the first responder/medical program.
"I always wanted to go into the medical field. I haven't decided [on a specific goal], but I want to deal with children," Conner said.
Some topics for the 160-hour course of study include apparatus and equipment, including hauling a 50-pound hose; hazardous materials awareness; fire behavior; building construction; personal protective clothing and equipment, including wearing 35 pounds of gear; ropes, knots; forcible entry; communications, which involves use of radios; fire education and prevention.
Assessed on lecture material and hands-on skills, the students are graded as they would be in any other class.
The entire firefighting program is 480 hours. These students will be ready for the 320-hour Firefighter II installment.
Wilkerson and Wright plan to attend First Coast Technical Institute in St. Augustine to complete their firefighting training. Wallace is joining the Air Force to study fire science.
St. Johns River Community College also offers the firefighting sequence, but Connor has plans to major in a medical field-type program.
Right now, McGuirt's thinking about her vacation to Hawaii, but has her sights on attending SJRCC with a goal of becoming a physician's assistant.
From cutting up a car to extricate a victim, to climbing the fire truck ladder to finding a way through a two-story darkened "house" -- and everything in between -- the students must meet statewide standards.
And Knoff is proud of this first group.
"It gives them a career path," he said, adding, "It teaches them life skills," such as how to operate a fire extinguisher, deliver a baby, conduct CPR -- things one may need to use in everyday living.
deborah.cearnaljacksonville.co m, (904) 278-9487, extension 11
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05-24-2005, 11:54 PM #1
Clay County Tests Firefighting Classes in High School09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
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The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.
10-10-2009, 04:27 AM #2
- Join Date
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Clay County's Firefighting Class of '05
Had a blast during firefighting class with Chief Knoff and Chief Davis and an amazing time in Hawaii !! However, on May 20th in 2006 I was hired on with the Clay County Sheriff's Office as an Emergency Communications Operator and I'm still here working on my 4th year!!
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