What does it take to become a Colorado firefighter?
Colorado Mountain College’s Fire Academy I has created a successful formula that is respected and recognized by many Colorado fire departments. Students learn from experienced firefighters, complete hours of training, and participate in more live burns than any other academy in the state. Upon completion of CMC’s Fire Academy, most students pursue firefighter positions in Colorado. Many of these students, like Brent DiRoma and Caroline Wockner, choose to stay local and serve our communities.
Brent DiRoma, Leadville Lake County Fire Rescue
CMC firefighters are in peak physical condition. They develop and commit to intense training schedules to prepare them for physically challenging conditions. Some, like Brent DiRoma, a twenty-nine year old student from Seminole, FL, are motivated to become firefighters on both a physical and emotional level.
“I want to be there for people on their worst day,” says Brent, who has idolized firefighters since childhood, “and firefighting is a career based on that sentiment. Everyone I’ve met thus far in the fire service, has shown that level of compassion.”
Brent is a reserve firefighter with Leadville Lake County Fire Rescue and learned about CMC’s Fire Academy through LLCFR’s resident program. In addition to receiving a Certificate of Occupational Proficiency in Fire Academy I, he is working towards an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Fire Science Technology. Credits earned in Fire Academy I will be applied towards his Fire Science degree.
“The program made me infinitely more confident in what I can bring to the table as a firefighter,” says Brent, “The instructors are passionate about the work and you get your hands really, really dirty.”
Experience is what sets CMC’s Fire Academy program apart from the rest. Students are exposed to lots of controlled burns while getting to know many career firefighters and learning from their experiences. Many graduates return to the academy as instructors, welcoming and mentoring new firefighters.
“I’m hoping to assist with the program next fall because I believe in this academy,” says Brent, “What I learned is insurmountable and I want to give back to the academy and from my experience with Leadville Fire.”
Caroline Wockner, Salida Fire
At twenty-three years old, Caroline Wockner has acquired more service experience than most do in a lifetime. She started out her career with the Forest Service as a Wildland Firefighter, and is now building her firefighting career within the Salida Fire department.
The Fire Academy I program at Colorado Mountain College Leadville has helped her connect with local fire departments and challenged her to practice life saving skills in a competitive yet supportive environment.
“This a fast-paced competitive program with a great instructor to student ratio,” says Caroline, originally from Fort Collins, CO, “It has also allowed me to get professionally familiar with a handful of fire departments in central Colorado and network with a few of the firefighters that work there.”
Besides building her network, Caroline has also focused on boosting her resume with skills and certifications that will serve her community. In addition to graduating from Fire Academy I in 2017, she also has an EMT certification, as well as an IV certification through Colorado Mountain College Leadville.
These certifications have helped Caroline develop an exceptional service career at twenty-three years old. She is currently a Reserve EMT/ Firefighter with Salida Fire, a part-time EMT-B IV with Chaffee County EMS, and a Phlebotomist at Heart of the Rockies Medical Center.
As she focuses on becoming a full-time firefighter with the Salida Fire Department, she recognizes the advantages that CMC’s Fire Academy has offered her. In fact, it was Andy Majeski, a fellow Salida firefighter and Fire Academy graduate/ current instructor, who recommended the program to Caroline.
“Take advantage of opportunities to go above and beyond,” says Caroline, “This academy is one long interview. Your instructors already work for the departments you will want to work for. Their impression of you from academy matters when the time comes to apply at local fire departments.”