Firefighter training course returning to Highlands High School |
Valley News Dispatch

Firefighter training course returning to Highlands High School


A program that prepares teens to be firefighters is returning to Highlands High School.

The school board has accepted a proposal from the Highlands Emergency Services Alliance and the Allegheny-Kiski Health Foundation to bring back the entry level fire training as an elective for sophomores, juniors and seniors.

It had been offered for nine years, but stopped when its instructor left the district.

The coalition that plans to bring it back starting in the 2019-20 school year also includes the state and county fire academies. The Highlands Emergency Services Alliance includes eight volunteer fire companies within the school district.

Students who sign up for the course would be bused to the county’s training center in North Park. The Health Foundation will cover the cost. There would be no costs to the district, according to Rick Jones, chief of Pioneer Hose and the alliance’s vice president.

Students would attend classes for 14 days spread throughout the school year.

The coalition’s proposal to the school district notes that most communities in the state are served by volunteer firefighters, and their ranks have been dwindling – from about 350,000 in the 1970s to 50,000 today.

“Volunteer firefighters are called on to do so much more than fight fires,” the proposal states. “They provide automobile accident response, water rescue and water safety services, disaster response and rescue, traffic control, removal services for downed trees and other roadway impediments, residential flooding remediation, missing person searches, fire safety training, and yes, they also respond to cats stranded in trees.”

About 150 Highlands High School students completed the course over the nine years it had been offered, according to the coalition’s proposal to the school district.

“And while it is true that not all of the students became firefighters, and not all that did become firefighters stayed in the Highlands community, it is the bigger picture that counts. Both the community and the nation are safer as a result,” the proposal says.

Skills and concepts students gained from the training useful beyond firefighting include problem solving, teamwork, critical decision making, situational awareness, safety and survival, and leadership, the proposal states.

Brian Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Brian at 724-226-4701, [email protected] or via Twitter @BCRittmeyer.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.