Teens hoping to be firefighters train with Rochester Fire Dept.

(ABC 6 News) – The newest class of the Rochester Fire Department’s high school firefighting program had their third training session Saturday morning.

High school juniors and seniors in the program spent the morning executing search and rescue drills, practicing saving victims and learning how to navigate in the dark.

The program is a free, 9 month-long class that runs from Sept. to May through RFD. Students learn fire training through a blend of online class work and seven days full of hands-on practice with real firefighters.

“This is incredibly important because it gives students the opportunity to do some career exploration. It also gets them the certifications they need should they want pursue a career in the fire service, all while earning college credit,” said Capt. Caleb Feine with RFD.

The students benefit as well.

“I didn’t know what I wanted to do, so I thought it would be a great opportunity to find what I wanna do,” said Nashari Grabow, a senior at Century High School in Rochester. “I found out I do want to be a firefighter because I like the sense of community it has and you get to help peoples lives.”

Another student says she knew what she wanted to do and this class has made it easier to pursuing her dream.

“I wanted to be a paramedic in the fire station, so I wanted that fire background, as well as my EMT training,” said Indira Fishbaugher, a senior at Century High School.

Saturday’s class was focused on search and rescue.

“They’re gonna search for victims, they’re gonna search for people we can save,” explained Capt. Feine. “In the fire service we risk a lot to save a lot and we’re teaching them how to really get a base set of knowledge if they ever do get on a fire department and they pursue this.”

Some of the drills included being blindfolded and having to find a victim in the dark with your team, similar to a day in the life of a firefighter.

“It’s like crawling around, you can’t see anything, so it’s like a giant black-out maze. It’s fun,” added Fishbaugher.

Students also practiced going up and down on ladders, how to cut a hole in the roof with a chainsaw to let the heat out of the building and how to work alongside a team.

“After the class is over, most students tell me this is the most fun class they take all year,” Capt. Feine said.

Every year, the program sends out around 48 students that can work in surrounding communities.

After the program is finished in May, these students will have completed their firefighters 1 and 2 certifications and are 2/3 of the way towards being an official firefighter.

If you are interested in joining next years program, contact your high school officials or call the Rochester Fire Dept. You must be a junior or senior to be eligible.