Student Firefighter Program

Student Firefighter Program


Student Program Brochure QR
Student Firefighter Program
In 2018, the Sutherlin Fire Department began a partnership with  Umpqua Community College to train students enrolled in either the Fire Science or Emergency Medical Technology Associate Degree programs at the college. The goal was to provide an opportunity for students to receive real life training in the areas of firefighting and emergency medical services.

Sutherlin Fire Department provides all uniforms, & equipment as well as supplies a scholarship that can be applied to the student’s tuition and books. In return, the students work ten, 24-hour shifts per month at Sutherlin Fire Station 1 assisting with Fire Engine staffing for the City of Sutherlin & Calapooia Rural Fire District. The program started in 2018 with two students per shift and was increased to three students per shift in 2020 for a total of nine student firefighters. The program has already been a success with multiple students from 2018 already working in the firefighting and emergency medical fields.

How to Become a Student Firefighter
To enter the program, a student must apply through a competitive process as space in the program is limited. Once accepted into the program, they are enrolled at Umpqua Community College and a plan of coursework is outlined to achieve their Associates Degree in either Fire Science or Paramedicine. Students must carry at least 12 credits per term and maintain at least a 2.5 grade point average to receive the $2,000 per term scholarship. 

What It Means to Be a Student Firefighter
Each student is assigned under a Career Fire Officer who becomes their mentor and trainer for the next 2 years. In addition to learning firefighting and EMS skills, students develop and build interpersonal relationship skills by living and working in the same environment as the paid firefighters. This gives them some insight into what it really means to work as a firefighter and emergency medical technician (EMT). Some people are not cut out to work the 24-hour shift schedule and some find that they have a low tolerance for some of the types of calls firefighters respond to.
Firefighters must be able to quickly size up a situation and determine a plan of action which often as not impacts someone's possessions or even their life. Firefighters must be able to work in hot environments and confined spaces often with limited visibility. EMTs are required to deal with life threatening medical emergencies. A high level of physical fitness is required to perform the tasks required for the job.
As a department, our goal is to find those students who have a strong work ethic and the skills and abilities to move forward into a full-time paid position as they become available. Multiple other fire departments and EMS services have benefited from our student firefighter program by hiring them as they complete our program.

Training Program
Much of the first year of the program focuses on developing firefighting, rescue, EMS skills, learning department SOG's and regulations with a heavy emphasis on safety. During the second-year students essentially function side-by-side with the paid firefighters and their skills are evaluated on a daily basis to hone and refine what they have learned during the previous 12 months. During the second year, student firefighters receive training on fire apparatus operations and driving.
All student firefighter training is accredited through Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards & Training and includes, but not limited to: NFPA Firefighter 1 & 2, NFPA Fire Instructor 1, NFPA Fire Apparatus Driver/Operator, NFPA Fire Apparatus Equipped with a Fire Pump, NFPA Wildland Fire Apparatus Operator, NFPA Hazardous Materials Awareness & Operations, Wildland Firefighter Type 2 & 1, etc.

Success for All Involved
This successful program has contributed to providing a high level of service to our community while at the same time helping to control costs. It provides us with a pool of well trained and enthusiastic firefighters at a very low cost to the taxpayers. In addition, and maybe most important it provides an opportunity for our local young adults to pursue a career while remaining in or around their hometown while completing college course and gaining experience.

If you are interested in learning more about the Student Firefighter program, please contact Fire Captain Curt Richardson at 541-459-1394 or at c.richardson@ci.sutherlin.or.us.  Please click here for the informational brochure for the  Sutherlin Fire's Student Program!

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