Seniors Pedro Cervantes, Alejandro Becerra, Jonathan Trevino, Cameron Ermel, Jessiah Medrano, and Leonel Ponce Morin successfully completed all four portions of the Texas Commission on Fire Protection state exam.
“Students still need to complete some medical training before being certified in the state as commissioned firefighters,” Firefighter Academy CTE instructor Kris Armstrong said.
The HCISD Firefighter Academy, which began in 2017 is a two-year certification program.
Students submit applications during their sophomore year of high school, and then if accepted, can begin the program as juniors.
Alejandro Becerra, a Harlingen High School senior is one of the students in the process of completing his certification.
“When I was younger, the fire department would come to our school,” Becerra said. “My favorite color is red, and I love trucks, and then I was like, ‘I want to save some lives.’” So, I heard the program was going to be introduced, I applied, and now I am here.”
The program includes some Saturday field trips to complete required skills training exercises at Harlingen and other neighboring Rio Grande Valley Fire Department Training Center facilities
“I learned about what you would do in a situation of a burning car or burning house,” Becerra said. “I got my certification in CPR which will help me in my everyday life, and we would do our simulations like burning buildings once a year which was a great experience for us.”
The primary goal of the Firefighter Academy is to expose students to the field of firefighting while developing a pathway for future firefighters as well as to strengthen the student’s ties with the Harlingen Fire Department, the school district, and the community.
“I passed all my classes,” Becerra said. “I get my certification when I pass my EMT training. I am starting EMT paramedics training soon. I just think it’s a great opportunity for kids to be able to walk out of high school with a fire certification. It’s amazing.”
Upon meeting graduation requirements and after participants turn 18, Firefighter Academy students are eligible and prepared to take the Texas Commission on Fire Protection Certification exam. Students are also eligible and prepared to take the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians EMT certification exam after completing required training.