Not everyone can run into a burning building or help pull someone out of a car accident.
Firefighters risk everything when they go to work.
“It’s not for the faint of heart,” said Lt. Tyson Allen, a firefighting instructor.
Amarillo College’s fire protection technology program is a way to get started with a career in firefighting.
Upon completion of the course, students are eligible to take the exam to become a basic firefighter anywhere in Texas.
Additional classes that are required to become a marshal or investigator.
“It’s a great program leading to a great job that’s very rewarding,” Allen said. “You get to work with guys that have your back in the field. We are family.”
With the growing population of Amarillo, the demand for more first responders such as firefighters also is expected to grow.
Allen said there are plans to build two or three more fire stations in Amarillo and that students in the AC program are likely candidates to fill the stations.
Most of the current students in the program are from the Texas Panhandle area, but there also are some from around the state. Among those candidates is fire protection technology major Josh Craft.
“It has always interested me. It’s a gateway to many opportunities,” Craft said. “It’s exciting and different every day, and I think it’s the right fit for me.”
He doesn’t see fire marshal or investigator in his future but said he looks forward to being a paramedic.
Dennis Eaves, program director for fire protection technology, said students complete a variety of exercises during the course.
“It’s always changing, and they never have just one project,” Eaves said. “One day they’re going over handling hazardous material, and the next they’ll be learning about fire protection technology.”
The courses are accredited and up to date with national expectations.
“The curriculum is based off of the Texas Commission of Fire Protection standards, and we teach at the same standard as everywhere else in the U.S.,” Eaves said.
Craft said he thinks the course is preparing him for his career after AC.
“The program is highly respected. They put into perspective what firefighting consists of,” Craft said. “They have great staff that will help you along the way. It’s just an adventure. I wouldn’t change anything about it.”
Out of all the subjects in the curriculum, Craft said his favorite is fire science.
“I like to know how things work,” he said. “You learn what causes fires, what stops them and how long they will last.”
After they start training, some students find that the program is not for them. Maybe it’s not as interesting as they thought or they realize that they don’t have what it takes to enter a burning building or other disaster.
As for Craft, it looks like he’ll stick with it.
“I’m not really scared,” Craft said. “It will be scary at first, but you can’t hesitate. Once you get in there, it’ll go by fast, and before you know it, you’ll be out.”