Unique high school firefighting class needs more participants (Bay News 9)

Bay News 9 reporter, Summer Smith, interviewing Tristan Sypula

In Manatee County, a unique program designed to help teens get an early start in a career as a firefighter and EMT is in jeopardy.

Manatee Technical Institute in Lakewood Ranch offers a fire science Program for seniors in high school.

“It is taught the same way as the adult fire science program,” said Donna Puhalovich, a career counselor for the program. “It is a one-year commitment and, at end of the year, they will take the same certification the adults take.”

However, a lack of interest may lead to the class not being held during the upcoming school year.

This is disappointing news for Tristan Sypula, 16, who is a junior at Lakewood Ranch High School.

“I thought it would be a really good job to have,” Sypula said.

Sypula was hoping to get a jump start on his hopeful firefighter career. He is signed up the fire science program, which is set to begin August.

Due to a lack of enrollment, students may not be able to participate in the program.

For MTI to offer the class, a minimum of 15-students are needed. So far, only 11-have signed up.

Organizers said it’s a shame they are not getting a better response.

“If you were to take this program as a high school student, you will save about $2,000 opposed to taking the same program as an adult,” Puhalovich said.

Once students are finished, they can be working as a full-time firefighter and EMT at 19 or 20 years old.

It’s an early firefighting career path that Sypula is hoping to take advantage of.

“We really need people to join,” Sypula said. “If we don’t have it this year, you have to wait until you’re 18.”

Students interested in signing up must be entering their senior year in Manatee County.

To sign up, students can talk to their school’s guidance counselor about filling out an application.

Students must sign up by the end of this school year. For more information, call 941-752-8100 Ext. 2195.

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