Andy Kim is a former GOVERNING staff writer.
Lately, disastrous blazes across the country have put firefighters to the test in places like San Bruno, Calif., and Boulder County, Colo. But before firefighters can be put to the test, they must pass a test. The Sun News reports that Horry County, S.C., is the latest to launch a program that prepares high school students to take a certification test and become active firefighters as soon as they turn 18. During the two-year program at Horry County Public Schools’ Academy for Technology and Academics, participating high school juniors and seniors are trained to become firefighters by certified instructors from Horry County Fire Rescue. After completing the training and reaching his or her 18th birthday, students are then eligible to test for firefighter certification through the National Fire Protection Association and the South Carolina Fire Academy. Once passing the test and becoming certified, students are eligible to be hired as a firefighter anywhere in the country. If a student completed the pilot program and is hired by Horry County, he or she doesn’t have to repeat any training or volunteer work – such as a 12-week recruit course and 30-day mentor program.