MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- The Twentynine Palms Fire Department, San Bernardino County Fire Department and Copper Mountain Community College are looking for Marines and Sailors who are interested in giving back to their community through volunteer firefighting.
Beginning Wednesday, Copper Mountain Community College is offering a semester-long Paid-Call Firefighter Academy for service members and civilians and will accept late applications.
A paid-call firefighter is on volunteer status but gets paid a certain amount of money each time they respond to a call for assistance or, with some stations, paid by the hour.
The amount paid per call varies with each fire station. Twentynine Palms Fire Station pays $5 per call. Volunteers are also paid for attending weekly training sessions at the fire station.
“It’s tough to find volunteer firefighters these days, and it’s even tougher to keep the ones we get,” said Fire Chief Jim Thompson, Twentynine Palms Fire Department. “We get military members and we know that they will eventually get transferred, but the service they provide while they’re here in Twentynine Palms is invaluable.”
The course marks the third Paid-Call Fire Academy held by Copper Mountain Community College and meets Wednesday nights from 6 to 9 p.m. and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The 180-hour course provides students with seven college units and works as an elective credit toward a fire technology degree.
The course covers basic firefighting topics such as hose use, ladders, breathing apparatus and safety and some advance classes in fire protection and also includes certifications in hazardous materials response, auto extrication, wildland firefighting, swiftwater awareness, confined space awareness and the incident command system, according to a Twentynine Palms Fire Department press release.
According to Thompson, a former radio chief for 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, the academy is a good stepping-stone for Marines and Sailors who are separating from the service and are looking for possible career options.
“This is good for people who have an interest in pursuing some other vocation after they separate from the Marine Corps,” he said. “There is a tradition of military service in firefighting. A lot of fire organizations look highly on hiring former military personnel.”
Instructors from the course come from the various fire agencies in the area, with Capt. Jesse Quinalty from the Twentynine Palms Fire Station serving as the lead instructor.
The last academy graduated 12 students with nearly half of them service members from the Combat Center.