Sierra College’s Nevada County campus cuts ribbon on first fire academy | TheUnion.com

Sierra College’s Nevada County campus cuts ribbon on first fire academy

Jennifer Nobles
Staff Writer

Sierra College's Nevada County campus commemorated the opening of its new fire academy training facility Tuesday.

The space will allow the college to properly train those interested in pursuing a career in firefighting, a need that has grown due to the extreme and devastating fire seasons the state has experienced in recent years.

Classes formally began in the building in March and will conclude in June, when the course expects to graduate six new firefighers. The program can accommodate up to 30 students per class, a number organizers hope will grow as word of the center spreads.

The new facility is a full-time fire academy. The school's Roseville campus continues to offer part-time classes on nights and weekends. The Nevada County campus addition is the only training facility in Nevada County currently serving those pursuing fire careers.

Though the training academy is officially open, a burn tower — used largely for high angle rescue training — is in its planning stages, and once in place the academy can offer a more comprehensive list of courses, including advanced classes.

According to Sierra College Fire Program Coordinator Tim Palmer, the project began in late 2016 when the college became aware funds were available through Strong Workforce, a program dedicated to developing more workforce opportunity and lifting low-wage workers into living-wage jobs.

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"We found there was a need for more fire academy training with the closing of Sac Regionals Fire Academy," Palmer said. "That stopped a lot of potential students so they started coming here, and we had more applications than we had space."

The next academy session will begin in late January and end in early May of next year.

When the building is not being used for the academy, the facility will be used for other classes like hazardous materials training in the fall, a rescue class, and as a recruit academy for high school students who can see if they are interested in a fire career.

"Our firefighter program is one of our more popular," said Sierra College president William Duncan. "We train young people to work in an industry in which they can earn a living wage, they can afford to live in our community, they can raise their families here, and they can provide safety for us which is extremely important to any community."

Grass Valley Fire Chief Mark Buttron area fire agencies and Sierra College have had good working relationships, created over the years.

"We get to see the benefits first hand (in) the fire academy through providing internships for the graduating academy students should they choose to do so," Buttron said. "These are the next generation of firefighters, engineers and captains that we're going to hire."

Jennifer Nobles is a staff writer for The Union. She can be reached at jnobles@theunion.com or 530-477-4231.

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