36 cadets graduate from Travis County ESD No. 2's first in-house training program

Travis County ESD No. 2 held their Class 31 graduation. The 36 graduates were the first in the in-house training program.

One of the graduates, Kameron Anderson, says one of the reasons he wanted to be a firefighter stemmed from a time his grandfather had a heat stroke.

When he saw the first responders in action, he said, "that kind of led me to the part, leading me to know what I wanted to do in life."

Family is a common theme driving this class.

For Sal Caputi, his brother is also a firefighter.

"Feels fantastic, can't believe it's been basically seven months since we started," he said.

"It just feels good to just kind of get the opportunity," Anderson said.

The class started in January.

In the past, a firefighter would have to get certification on their own before training. Now, you can start without any certifications, and they will teach you everything. This program was a response to the worker shortage.

"What I think we've done with this program is tapped a talent pool that previously our business couldn't really access," Chief Nick Perkins with Travis County ESD No. 2 said.

It was also a big draw for cadets.

"When I heard about it, I was like, 'let me jump on it,'" Anderson said.

"I was coming in a blank slate, and this program really allowed me to come in and become a firefighter," Caputi said.

Cadets even got real world experience helping at the Cameron Grove Fire on Wednesday. 

"It was fun, but tiring," Anderson said.

"It was kind of a dream come true, the timing, the day before graduation, it was pretty surreal as well," Caputi said.

As for advice to the next class, he says, "you just have to balance the physical aspect of the job with the mental."

"This generation of firefighters is about to get really tested, but ultimately, they're ready, they're prepared," Perkins said. "I am so impressed by these people."

If you're interested in learning more about careers with the fire department, click here.

Cadets are paid for training and receive full benefits.