CHINA GROVE, NC (WBTV) - Even in the 21st century, fire safety and protection is still a critical component of keeping the public safe.
A new collegiate program at South Rowan High School prepares students for future careers in fire protection.
Rowan-Cabarrus Community College partnered with South Rowan to begin the college education of seven juniors and seniors this past fall.
The new and exciting program at South Rowan allows interested students to get a jumpstart on their college-level fire protection technology classes without leaving their high school.
"The classes employ what we called applied learning – it's a mix of both the theory and practical, hands-on training," said instructor Ben Lunsford.
During two instructional blocks a day, the students earned six college credits this fall. Juniors who began this program will ultimately complete 18 credits and earn a certificate in basic fire operations.
"The idea is that after graduating from high school, the student would continue on in the fire protection technology program at Rowan-Cabarrus to maximize their career success," said instructor Todd Overcash. "Students would then have approximately a year and half of college courses left in order to complete their degree."
Students learn everything from the history of the field, the many aspects of fire prevention education and how to train people in fire prevention. Additional course topics include fire codes, hose handling and search and rescue.
"If we know how buildings go up, we can know how they come down," said Dr. Joe Woodall, chair of the Rowan-Cabarrus Fire Protection Technology program. "Students aren't learning how to build the building, but knowing the method in which a building was constructed is important. They'll then know how the elements of the building react to heat and flame and what kinds of smoke they'll be dealing with in a fire emergency."
Students ultimately seeking to achieve a four-year degree can also find their way through this program. For instance, UNC-Charlotte works closely with Rowan-Cabarrus on transferring students to complete their remaining two years toward a fire protection engineering or a fire safety engineering technology degree.
"The Fire Protection Technology program is about more than just becoming a firefighter. I used my training at Rowan-Cabarrus to look at the fire prevention system as a whole," said Nelson Barbee, Owner, Salisbury Fire Appliance Company. "I'm proud of the work the College is doing to educate the next generation in this important and ever-changing career field."
In addition to more advanced fire protection methods and strategies, students who opt to continue on in the Fire Protection Technology program at Rowan-Cabarrus will complete coursework in emergency medical services, physical fitness and stress management.
The South Rowan initiative is part of the College's Career & College Promise program which allows high school juniors and seniors to take college classes with no charge for tuition. The program, revamped at the state level last year, provides a focused means for students to begin completion of college transfer credits or career training prior to their graduation from high school.
There are two tracks for the Career & College Promise program – one allows students to specialize in a career or technical pathway, while the other allows students to prepare for general transfer onto a four-year college or university.
"The college transfer classes are truly an alternative to advanced placement – they are weighted just like honors classes," said Dr. Rod Townley, vice president of academic programs. "Unlike advanced placement courses that are taught locally and tested for credit nationally, students who pass the course with a C or better are guaranteed full college credit."
Students have the opportunity to earn up to 36 hours of college and high school credit simultaneously.
"The other perk of this opportunity is getting to experience real college classes – students ultimately feel better prepared when they head off to a four-year college or university because they're already confident in their ability to do college work," said Dr. Carol S. Spalding, president of Rowan-Cabarrus.
In addition to fire protection technology, students may also earn college credits toward a credential, certificate or diploma in a technical career. These career technical pathways allow students to explore potential career areas including:
• Automotive Technology
• Criminal Justice
• Early Childhood
• Simulation and Gaming Design
• Manicuring and Nail Technology
• Computer Integrated Machining
• Motorsports Management
• Web Technology Design
Key partners in bringing the Fire Protection Technology program to South Rowan include Roger Withers, director of Career and Technical Education for Rowan-Salisbury School System, and the staff and teachers at South Rowan High School. Beginning 2014-15, any student from Rowan County can participate in the Fire Protection Technology program at South Rowan.
"We have also received a lot of support from the local fire departments in the form of donated equipment and providing fire equipment and vehicles for practical demonstrations," said Overcash. "They are always helpful with initiatives designed to train more fire protectors."
The fire departments of Landis, China Grove, Kannapolis, Locke, Rockwell Rural, and Bostain Heights have all been particularly supportive of the new program at South Rowan.
For more information about the Fire Protection Technology program at Rowan-Cabarrus, please contact Dr. Joe Woodall (704-216-7259, email@example.com). For more information about the Career & College Promise program, please visit www.rccc.edu/ccp or call 704-216-RCCC (7222).
Spring classes begin on Monday, January 13, 2014. For more information about Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, please visit www.rccc.edu or call 704-216-RCCC (7222).