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Posted in on April 10, 2024

Preparing Future Firefighters 

Arlington ISD Fire Academy instructor Brandon Russ has always been passionate about empowering his students to pursue their dreams in firefighting and emergency response.  

That’s why when he had an idea to improve the program’s experience, he reached out to Arlington ISD Dan Dipert Career and Technical Center (CTC) principal Ginger Polster for a grant submission through the Arlington ISD Education Foundation.  

As a previous student of the academy himself, he knew exactly what the program needed – its very own cascade system, a high-pressure gas cylinder storage system used for refilling the tanks firefighters wear on their backs. 

Thanks to the H-E-B Tournament of Champions, the Fire Academy was awarded a $50,000 grant to do exactly that. 

“This is an amazing opportunity for our students because they will be able to develop skills through hands-on learning in SCBA (self-contained breathing apparatus) cylinder maintenance, which consists of frequent visual inspections to assess, repair or remove damaged cylinders along with a periodic hydrostatic test of each cylinder to determine if it is safe to use in a live fire,” Polster said. “Currently, our students do not have access to learn these skills, so this grant will greatly expand the opportunity and access our students have to the equipment they need as they develop their skills to become a firefighter.” 

In collaboration with the Arlington Fire Department and Tarrant County College, seniors complete their state required skills at one of the two campuses on two Saturdays out of the month. 

“The biggest factor was that we’d be able to do more hands-on training at the CTC,” Russ said. “When I went through the program we had to wait for a Saturday to come up to get our reps in at a training center, whereas now we can do lectures and take the students straight outside.” 

Not only is it beneficial for students during their time in the program, it’s crucial for their future as firefighters, too.  

“It’s fantastic,” Russ said. “They will be getting more repetitions for when they are in the more serious situations. Being properly trained will allow them to fall back on the extensive training that they will have.”   

Looking ahead, the school also plans to offer opportunities for students to freshen up their skills over the summer.  

“I’m so thankful that Arlington ISD supports the CTC so much,” Russ said. “It’s going to help out our program for the foreseeable future.” 

Learn more about the Arington ISD Fire Academy