High school students given the opportunity to learn to be firefighters and break barriers

WARRENSVILLE HEIGHTS, Ohio -

More high school tech programs in Northeast Ohio are breaking barriers and providing career prospects for young people. 

News 5 talked to students at Warrensville Heights High School, which offers the Tri Heights Fire Tech program for junior and senior students. Students from Warrensville, Maple Heights, Bedford Heights, Shaker Heights and Cleveland Heights school districts can join the program.

Typically, becoming a firefighter or EMT takes about two years of training after high school, so these students are getting a two-year head start.

The Tri Heights Fire Tech program provides students with 60 credit hours toward an associate’s degree, emergency medical training (EMT) and firefighter’s license, plus certification -- all before they graduate high school.

The high school juniors take firefighter awareness, EMT awareness, CPR and two National Incident Management System courses. Meanwhile, the seniors complete the Fire/EMT curriculum during the first part of the school day. Then, they travel to Cuyahoga Community College’s Western Campus for Basic Fire Academy training. 

“Working hands-on makes it a lot easier,” said Cortez Bradley, Warrensville Heights High School senior. “In a classroom setting, you're just looking, going over lectures, and it's hard to retain that knowledge, but when you get hands-on feels, it makes it a lot easier.”

News 5 found the classes not only broke barriers in age range, but gender and body types. Kayla Miller said she will be the first female firefighter in her family once she graduates high school.

“People really underestimate girls like me, because they think that girls just want to be RN’s, nurses, but they really could do other things,” she said.

Antoine Crews works as a Cleveland firefighter and instructor for the Fire Tech classes. He said this occupation is not just for men, who are big and brawny, but people of all shapes and sizes. 

“I really love this program, because now younger females and younger males that are not as big as other males, come up feeling just as confident to get into their career, which they always perceived as a ‘bigger guy career,’” said Crews.

Crews said the students can work as firefighters, EMT’s or dispatch right out of high school if they pass all of their classes and tests. This program is also taught with East Cleveland Firefighter Brannon Barnes. 

The Tri Heights Fire Tech program has an agreement with North Randall, Highland Hills and Warrensville Heights fire departments to hire Fire Tech graduates as part-time firefighters. Once they graduate, students can receive a $2,000 scholarship to pursue a paramedic certification, thanks to the KeyBank Foundation.

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