Volunteering is on the decline across America but Hardin’s ESD No. 7 hopes to change that locally by sharing a love for firefighting with Hardin High School students.
Recently Fire Chief Jason Garza, ESD Commissioner Stephanie Johnson and others visited Hardin High School to speak to high school students about the rewarding career of firefighting and share how they, even as students, can begin working toward a firefighting career.
The junior firefighting program once existed at Hardin ISD and the renewal of it is the dream of ESD 7 President Klint Bush.
“Hardin Fire was built on junior firefighters. I don’t know why the program stopped but the foundation of the old Hardin Volunteer Fire Department (the precursor for ESD No. 7) was junior firefighting,” Bush said.
ESD No. 7 leaders are hoping to ramp up the junior firefighting program over the next month, train students over the summer and be in place by the next school year.
“Commissioner Richey Ewing, who is a teacher at Liberty ISD, also wants to work with students to host a fire class,” Bush said.
The benefit of the junior firefighting program is two-fold – the fire department has able-bodied young men and women to assist firefighters on fire calls, taking some of the pressure off of them, and offer a career path into firefighting that the students might not have otherwise considered.
“Firefighters can make a lot of money and have good benefits,” Bush said. “I’ve visited many fire stations as an ESD commissioner. When a call drops, it involves a lot of hard work, but firefighters also enjoy a lot of down time. Most of the professiona firefighters I know retire young,” Bush said.
“Our junior firefighters will not be going inside burning buildings. There will also be a lot of training before they can even start working fire calls with our firefighters,” he said.
If any Hardin High School student is interested in joining the junior firefighting program being offered by ESD No. 7 (Hardin Fire and Rescue), call 936-298-2828 and speak to Stephanie Johnson. The ESD office is usually open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily Monday through Friday. If someone does not answer the phone, leave a message and your call will be returned.
“The protocol for signing up is to fill out a packet and talk to the chief. The chief will coordinate with the school district to determine the student’s eligibility. One requirement is that our fire chief has to meet with a parent or guardian first,” Bush said.