Hendrickson High School


Fire Academy at Hendrickson HS set to begin in 2017

December 16, 2016 

Pflugerville ISD is making plans to pilot a new High School Fire Academy at Hendrickson High School, beginning with the 2017-18 school year.

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 Travis County Emergency Services District (TCESD) No. 2 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.

“Given the involvement and partnership with TCESD No. 2, these students will also become prime recruits for continuing their training and also for potential careers in firefighting,” said Ryan Merritt, PfISD director of career and technical education.

TCESD No. 2, also known as Pflugerville Fire Department, brought the concept to PfISD with the vision of gradually establishing fire academies throughout PfISD. Allison Strupeck, fire department public information officer, commended PfISD for embracing the opportunity. This program is one of several steps the fire department has made in recent months to deepen its partnership with PfISD.

“We are excited about the prospect of preparing local students for a gainful and meaningful career soon after graduating high school,” Strupeck said. “We are going to take a serious look at these academy graduates to potentially work right here for their hometown fire department.”

Prior to being hired, most fire departments, including Pflugerville, require firefighters to also be certified as an emergency medical technician (EMT). Strupeck 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 has 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.

PfISD will select approximately 16 students for the inaugural class, which will meet every day for 90 minutes, and will include a variety of certifications and trainings such as the 40-hour Red Cross certification (including Basic First Aid and CPR), National Incident Management System (NIMS) training, Traffic Incident Management, and more.

Students will be selected based on GPA, attendance and teacher recommendations. While most of the program cost will be funded by PfISD and the fire department, the students may be responsible for some of the costs, including testing, fingerprinting, supplies, etc. Assistance may be available for outstanding applicants in financial need.

“We have constructed this program in such a way that minimizes cost for our students,” added Merritt. “Compared to similar academy programs in the area, this is an affordable, high-quality option to get started toward a career in the fire service field.”

One path a student might take upon completion of the Fire Academy is a bachelor’s degree in a major such as public safety or emergency management.

Students interested in learning more about the Fire Academy at Hendrickson High School should contact Cassandra Jackson, lead counselor, at (512) 594-1120 or Cassandra.Jackson@pfisd.net. Enrollment begins this spring semester for the 2017-2018 school year.

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