HHS announces inaugural Fire Academy class

March 31, 2017 

inaugural class of Fire Academy
Pictured: Alexys Edwards (center) poses with Hendrickson Fire Academy instructor Mike Baker (left) and Michael Anderson of Pflugerville Fire Department Friday during a surprise ceremony to announce 18 juniors have been accepted into the inaugural class of the Fire Academy.
Hendrickson High School and Travis County Emergency Services District (TCESD) No. 2 announced the inaugural class of the new campus Fire Academy, set to kick off in the 2017-2018 school year.

School and district officials, along with members of TCESD, surprised 18 juniors in their classrooms with the news that they had been accepted to the program. The inaugural class will include: Tom Arnold, Hallie Beeson, Ian Cantu, Kelly Cerrito-Ramirez, Jacob Duffy, Alexys Edwards, Jesse Engdahl, Samantha Everette, Sarah Flynn, Salem Hilton, Alexandria Koger, Garrett LaMarre, Tyler LaMarre, Emiliano Martinez, Alyssa Nathanson, Hope Poirier, Connor Stevens and Alec Villalobos.

The program, which will operate under a blended model of online, face-to-face and hands-on instruction, is available for seniors only and will be one year in length. The school district is partnering with TCESD No. 2, also known as Pflugerville Fire Department, to give students an in-depth experience that provides an expedited pathway to a highly-respected career.

Students in the program can earn up to eight certifications, including a capstone Texas Firefighter Certification from the Texas Commission on Fire Protection, upon completion of the program. Prior to being hired, most fire departments, including Pflugerville, require firefighters to also be certified as an emergency medical technician (EMT). Allison Strupeck, fire department public information officer, noted there are multiple programs in Central Texas where students can earn their EMT certification in one semester.

“This means that within a year of finishing high school, these academy graduates could be earning close to $50,000 plus excellent benefits in a stable profession that makes our community safer,” she said.

PfISD’s 2016 District Teacher of the Year, Mike Baker, will serve as the classroom instructor. Baker spent more than 36 years as a firefighter and served as the fire chief for Copperas Cove Fire Department in Texas before joining Hendrickson High School as an engineering design instructor.

Pflugerville firefighters from the department’s Training Division will bring fire trucks and gear on a weekly basis to Hendrickson to teach the hands-on skills, in addition to the intensive physical training the students will get from the fire department’s fitness coordinator. The program will culminate with skills testing in June, led by the fire department at its training field, including fighting a live fire.