HCC, fire department forge internship program

By Michael Stavola
Hutchinson News – January 18, 2018

Sam Conger had mixed emotions as he started his first shift at Hutchinson Fire Department’s Fire Station No. 4, 11th Avenue and Halstead Street.

He won’t be paid or even receive college credit through the Hutchinson Community College Fire Science Program. The 19-year-old even needs to cut back his hours as a security guard at HCC.

“This is what I am wanting to do as a career when I graduate and I am willing to spend as much time as possible in it,” Conger said. “To tell you the truth, I am completely terrified but at the same time excited to go on some of these calls.”

Conger’s first 24-hour shift ends at 7 a.m. on Thursday. He’s one of three interns in HCC’s Fire Science program to start the inaugural internship in partnership with the Hutchinson Fire Department.

HCC Fire Science Coordinator Bobby White said talks about the partnership began four years ago, but the talks turned into action after Fire Chief Steve Beer took over the city department last year.

“That’s what really got it moving and got it into place. He is a big supporter,” White said, adding the program benefits the students and the fire department.

The internship, which takes first-year students in a two-year fire science program, allows the participants to learn early on whether or not they wish to forge a firefighting career. It also gives the fire department a better look at potential candidates.

White expects the new internship program to be an accredited class this fall. HCC Fire Science already offers accredited internships but nothing to this extent.

The current Fire Service Internship classes require four, 24-hour shifts with different fire crews, and the students usually only tag along.

The new internship program requires up to eight, 24-hour shifts a month for the semester with the same fire crew — the fire department runs 10 24-hour shifts a month. And in this internship, they may even fight fires.

Department Training Capt. Chris Ledbetter said after the interns work more with their crews, they will be given more responsibility and, eventually, act “just like a firefighter.”

The three interns all have Fire 1 certifications and are covered by the fire department’s insurance policy. The trio was expected to start their first shift this week out of Fire Station No. 4.

They were the only ones to apply for the program. Ledbetter said he hopes the program grows and becomes more competitive.

“I think it’s gonna be a great thing,” Ledbetter said. “We are really excited.”

 

Posted by Gwen Dorr Romine, KSFFA Webmaster
http://www.ksffa.com
KSFFA’s Fire News Blog Home Page

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