Harlingen CISD received a $350,000 grant to purchase a fire rescue training facility that will provide Firefighter Academy students realistic, certified training.
The Jobs and Education for Texans (JET) program provides grants to schools to purchase and install equipment necessary for the development of career and technical education courses or programs.
“The funds are coming from the Texas Workforce Commission,” HCISD CTE coordinator Juan Leal Jr. said. “The funds were just for colleges a couple of years back. About five years ago, they opened it up for public schools, and so now we are able to apply for the JET. This grant is used to purchase equipment for technical programs.”
In order to qualify for the grant, programs that apply for this funding are required to lead to a license, certificate, or post-secondary degree in a high-demand occupation.
Students in the Firefighter Academy at HCISD can earn credit towards certification while gaining hands-on experience through the program.
“They have to meet certain skills throughout the years in the program,” Leal said. “In order for them to apply for their firefighter license these skills need to be met at a facility that is certified by the state.”
Prior to receiving this grant, students completed required skills training exercises in neighboring training facilities.
“Since we didn’t have the facility, we had to drive our students all the way to the Edinburg Fire Department,” Leal said. “They have a facility out there that is certified where our students would do their skills. Now that we have this rescue facility, we are able to do most of those skills here in Harlingen, in HCISD.”
The two-story facility allows for live-fire simulations and other state-required training scenarios.
“They are able to turn this facility on fire,” Leal said. “We do have a partnership with the City of Harlingen Fire Department, and they supply us with a lot of equipment including fire trucks. So, they provide us a fire truck with water and then the students go in there and turn off the fire as a team. This facility can also be used to practice using equipment or tools to break the doors down. Students are able to do confined spacing, and they are able to do propelling from the very top.”
The multipurpose facility will also be used to train students in other Career Technology Education programs in the district.
“This facility is for different types of training,” Leal said. “Our Fire Academy students will also be able to partner up with our EMS program and our Law Enforcement program. Our EMT students will be able to do rescue scenarios and our Law Enforcement students will be able to do residential and commercial scenarios in there.”
The district is currently still deciding on the best location for this facility. The fire rescue training facility is expected to arrive in the second half of the school year.