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Meet the Walkertown High School Fire Academy

Drop Tank TrainingOctober 17, 2022 – Walkertown High School is teaching students how to keep themselves and their neighborhoods safe with the curriculum in its Fire Academy.

A Career and Technical Education career cluster, the Fire Academy is an occupational course of study that Walkertown has offered since 2016. Students who participate in the academy go through several tiers of firefighting training covering proper use of gear, fire prevention plans, rescue procedures, and virtually every aspect of the job except for working in an actual fire. By the time they graduate high school, these students have almost all of the training that they need to begin a career as a firefighter.

“When they leave here, we want them to be as ready as possible for the real thing,” said Chief Harry Brown of the Fire Academy. “The only thing we can’t do is send them into a live burn because they’re not 18 yet. Other than that, we do everything.”

Loading HosesFire Academy students practice what they learn by helping their school community. Fire drills at Walkertown are conducted by members of the academy who check the building to make sure everyone gets out safely, and they’ve studied the school’s sprinkler system to get an idea of how effective water dispersal works. Being tasked with the fire safety of their peers makes the curriculum much more real for the students, but they’ve shown on many occasions that they’re up to the task.

“They’ve got a big responsibility, and they do a good job with it,” Brown said.

October is National Fire Prevention Month, when all Americans are encouraged to be extra mindful of the risks and consequences of fires. Students in the Fire Academy have a special appreciation for how complicated it can be to control a fire and protect people from it once it’s grown out of control. Their At Mineral Springscurriculum exposes them to prevention details that many of their classmates might not be aware of, like the different classes of fire based on cause that change the proper methods for extinguishing.

“You can’t just assume that everything is going to be simple,” said Owen Follas. “There are a lot of instructions you’ve got to follow.”

The awareness that defines National Fire Prevention Month guides Fire Academy students pursuing careers in public safety. Many of them come from firefighting families and have grown up around firefighters since before they started school. Even years before they begin their careers, they know that keeping the worst consequences of fires at bay is what they want to do with their lives.

With the Tanker“I joined the department as a volunteer as soon as I turned 14,” said Dylan Larimore. “Knowing that I can help someone is what keeps me going.”

Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools is teaching students to make a positive impact on their neighborhoods by making the most of their talents and passions, and students are more than willing to dedicate themselves to the fields where they see that they can make a difference.

“One day I’m going to be looking back on what I did with my time in high school,” said Robert Thomas. “I want to be proud of it.”

Jake Browning
(336) 727-8213 Ext. 70545