Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

New firefighter program gives SPC students a boost

A pilot program at St. Petersburg College aims to give new firefighters more intensive training and a leg up in getting their first jobs.

Program participants, in addition to classroom training, will intern with four departments in Pinellas County, enabling them to experience firsthand what life as a firefighter is all about.

"We're always looking at ways to distinguish SPC students from other graduates around the state," said Jim Terry, program director of the college's fire training center.

The program, thought to be the only of its kind in Florida, took about a year to create. The first students have just entered it.

The program also will provide advanced training to graduates of the college's fire center.

To become a certified firefighter in Florida requires 450 hours of classroom and hands-on training, as well as a passing score on a state exam.

Firefighters also must have at least another 40 hours to become certified as a "first responder" — basic first aid training — before being able to work as a firefighter, Terry said.

Competition for jobs is so high that departments essentially won't hire anyone unless they have more medical training and certification as an emergency medical technician or paramedic, he said.

That's why SPC developed the internship program with an eye toward giving their graduates a chance to gain additional certifications, knowledge and experience.

Those who choose to participate in the 200-hour internship program get more in-depth and intensive training in such things as extrications, firefighter safety and survival, and operating emergency vehicles.

They'll spend 40 hours doing ride-alongs with firefighters in St. Petersburg, Largo, Pinellas Park and Palm Harbor and rotate among departments as well as through stations and shifts.

Those departments were chosen because they're spread out across Pinellas and they're busy, giving students a good idea of the realities of the job. Terry said those departments also have chiefs who have supported other initiatives.

The fire departments, he said, might also find some employees among the interns. The fact that they've chosen to go into the program, Terry said, "shows that the students in this program are driven, are excited about this profession."

Palm Harbor fire Chief James Angle said his department has hosted EMT and paramedic interns in the past, so fire interns are just the next step.

"We just saw it as an opportunity to help younger people," Angle said.

Anne Lindberg can be reached at or (727) 893-8450.

New firefighter program gives SPC students a boost 07/16/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 16, 2013 2:45pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. 'Deadliest Catch' captain talks reality TV, Snoop Dogg and Tampa Bay


    Keith Colburn is best known as captain of the Wizard on the Discovery Network series Deadliest Catch. Colburn and crew go to battle in the Bering Sea working one of the deadliest jobs in America. A seasoned veteran, Keith has filmed 11 seasons of the show and is still going strong with his relief captain …

    Captain Keith Colburn is seen in this undated photo courtesy of the Discovery Channel. Courtesy of the Discovery Channel
  2. Police: Video shows teens watching, laughing as man drowns


    COCOA — Authorities in Florida say a group of teens watched and laughed as a man drowned in a retention pond last week.

    Jamel Dunn drowned in a retention pond in the city of Cocoa on July 9. Cocoa police say they later discovered a group of teens recorded the 31-year-old's drowning on video. [Florida Today]
  3. As Rubio avoids public settings on health care, disabled Tampa man's story gets attention


    Michael Phillips was hunting demons Monday night when the news broke: The Senate health care bill was dying.

    Michael Phillips at home in Tampa with his mother, Karen Clay
  4. Shark Week 2017: Michael Phelps races a shark and other must-see specials


    It's that time of year again. No, not back to school month or geek convention season -- it's Shark Week.

    For almost 30 years, Discovery Channel has brought a full week of special programs on the toothy underwater predators through Shark Week.
  5. HomeTeam 100: Players 51-60


    TAMPA - Wharton defensive back AJ Hampton will help lead the Wildcats into the 2017 season. Taken 7-6-17 by Scott Purks