SANFORD — Joey Shue knows how important well-trained firefighters are.
Shue was a firefighter for the Sanford Fire Department for 21 years before retiring in 1997 as a captain. He worked with hundreds of firefighters on thousands of fires, large and small.
Since then, Shue has served as Central Carolina Community College’s Fire/Rescue Training coordinator, overseeing training for firefighters from around the area and the state.
“Fire fighting is exciting and demanding work, critical to the safety of our communities,” Shue said. “They save lives and property. It is essential that firefighters be well-trained.”
The college has offered part-time firefighter training classes since 1964, but in 2001 it took that training to a new level with the establishment of its Emergency Services Training Center at the former Sanford/Lee County Airport site in Sanford. Since then, a new classroom building, Class-A burn building, 40-foot rescue training tower and other facilities have been added on the 116-acre site, providing more and better training.
Firefighters come to the ESTC for training in better, safer, and technologically advanced methods for fighting fires, rescuing people, and dealing with emergencies.
As of Jan. 18, the ESTC marks a new milestone in its high-quality training with the opening of the college’s Firefighter Academy. The Academy will be a full-time program for individuals to learn the skills essential for employment as a firefighter. Graduates will be prepared to take the state exams required to be a certified firefighter.
“This is an exciting training opportunity,” Shue said. “The Academy will be a rigorous and challenging course of study. When the students graduate, they will be prepared physically, psychologically, and with the skills and knowledge for the challenges of successful fire fighting.”
The Academy will require 815 hours of training, leading up to the June 29 graduation. Classes will meet 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and 8 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Fridays. Applications are due by Dec. 10. Early application is advised, as class size is limited.
Students will earn certifications in areas such as emergency medical response, fire fighting, hazardous materials, and general and technical rescuer. They will also train in incident command systems, rapid intervention, safety and survival, interviewing, and physical agility. Students are required to wear firefighter uniforms during training.
Up to 24 applicants will be accepted for the first Firefighter Academy program. Applicants must be at least age 18, in good physical condition, and have a high school diploma. Academy tuition is $350, plus the cost of textbooks and uniforms. Tuition is waived for those already working in emergency services.
“Central Carolina Community College’s Emergency Services Training Center is one of the finest firefighter training facilities in the state,” Shue said. “Ask anyone who has taken our programs. Fire departments are always looking for well-trained personnel. Our new Academy will take firefighter training to a whole new level.”