AFD donates gear to students in fire training program

The Austin Fire Department made a big donation Friday to help high schoolers on the career path to joining the rank and file.

The students of AISD's LBJ Fire Academy race to put on gear in the time frame of a real firefighter.

The bunker jackets, pants and boots which total $575 dollars for a set were once the property of the Austin Fire Department.

On Friday the students got to walk away with them. AFD donated 15 of each as well as 69 air packs.

"We are very proud of this program and look forward to getting some more life out of equipment the fire department can no longer use,” said Assistant Chief Aaron Woolverton.

The fire academy started in 2006. This is video of one of their hands-on activities.

Students who participate attend classes throughout their junior and senior years of high school. Instructor and retired Austin firefighter Leon Hudson says the training and certification students receive is exactly the same as a cadet would in AFD's academy. They also receive EMT training and certification.

"Graduating from high school with certifications and going right into a career that pays $45 plus a year working 100 days out of the year, it's amazing,” said Hudson.

For Genoice Walker III, a career in firefighting would be a family tradition. His grandfather, Genoice Walker Sr. was one of the first African American firefighters in Galveston.

“I think he’d be proud,” said Walker.

The program has been an eye-opening experience for students. They say their respect has grown for those already doing this as a career.

"Having to go into a house fire is going to be unbelievably hot. I respect them so much for being able to do that every day,” said Sarah McGee. "I think it's so compelling and something I could look forward to for the rest of my life."

"They deal with a lot. It's a lot of stress. It's a lot of situation awareness you've got to deal with it. But at the end of the day you will follow through with it. It's a fun job,” said Walker.

200 students have gone through the program. 10 are currently working as firefighters. One of them is at AFD.