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MATC fire training

Prairie Phoenix Academy senior Ryan McGee learns to adjust his breathing apparatus during a firefighting class at Madison Area Technical College in September. Baraboo School District leaders hope to offer a similar program through Madison College at the high school next fall. 

District leaders are planning to offer a firefighter training course at Baraboo High School next school year.

The school district will partner with the Baraboo Fire Department and Madison Area Technical College to prepare students for state firefighter certification exams. The new Fire Academy course and a host of others were approved by the Baraboo School Board on Monday.

Director of Teaching and Learning Nicholas Karls said students enrolled in the program would receive instruction at the Baraboo firehouse from certified Madison College instructors. They would also travel to Madison College five times throughout the semester to use firefighting equipment in training structures.

Karls said he and other district leaders traveled to Madison College to watch area school districts that have enacted similar courses participate in the training.

“Sun Prairie has this occurring with one of their high school programs right now, so we actually got to see the students come in, put on the gear and go through some of the training,” he said. “The students had a lot of positive things to say.”

Baraboo Fire Chief Kevin Stieve said the semester-long Fire Academy course would offer training ranging from basic firefighting techniques to “somewhat” advanced levels. Through training exercises at Madison College, he said students will gain experience with live fire conditions, smokey environments, extrication procedures, raising ladders and other important firefighting skills.

“They’ll definitely have their share of practical skill applications throughout the training semester,” Stieve said.

Stieve added that having the students in class for a semester will give instructors more time to delve deeper into different aspects of firefighting than they generally have with normal training courses.

“The school semester provides a little bit more instructional hours where we can expand on practical or classroom skills,” he said.

School board members asked if the district would offer workforce certification through the Fire Academy course. District Administrator Lori Mueller said program leaders are asking the state to include Baraboo High School on a list of schools that receive funding to offer workforce certification for similar programs.

District leaders plan to offer the Fire Academy course next fall.

Stieve said he approached Baraboo school leaders about offering a Fire Academy course after hearing about the Sun Prairie Area School District’s program through Madison College. He said bringing a similar course to Baraboo would benefit the district, as well as the community and area fire departments.

“It’s a huge opportunity for the Baraboo School District and the Baraboo Fire Department,” he said. “Hopefully we can get it wrapped up into a program where we can help each other out, and help out the Baraboo community and potentially the other communities with trained firefighters.”

Follow Jake Prinsen on Twitter @prinsenjake

Baraboo News Republic Reporter