WALKER, La. (BRPROUD) — A Livingston Parish Fire Department creates a new program to recruit high school students to the frontlines to fulfill the staff shortages throughout local emergency services.

Helping the community, having an exciting, unpredictable job, and even riding in a sweet fire truck are all things Livingston Parish students have the opportunity to do, while also getting a head start on their career.

“It’s really, really exciting,” expressed District 4 Junior Fireman, Elijah Johnson.

He said after volunteering in Springfield, he found passion in fire fighting.

“My mom tells me I have a servant’s heart. So it’s something I kind of pursued after. I get to help people all the time and get to do some crazy stuff,” he explained.

Johnson will start learning the ropes, before receiving a high school diploma, thanks to a firefighter program created by Walker High School and Fire District 4.

“I was like, man, I got to jump on this because it gives me an opportunity after I get done with this class coming right out of high school to get on to a full-time department and starting my career really early,” said Johnson.

The program is the first like it in the state. It is open to seniors in Livingston Parish Schools.

“This program is going to produce such great firefighters. We see already after just a month, we see some greatness in them,” stated LP Fire District 4 Training Safety Officer Frank Dellucky.

He said there is a need to get more people geared up like Johnson, especially when volunteers have dropped by half.

“The manpower needed for certain incidents, fires, car accidents is getting larger based on certain fires we have. They’re getting worse,” said Dellucky.

According to the National Fire Protection Association,

  • As of February 2020 there is an estimated 29,705 U.S. fire departments and 19,112 of them are all volunteer.
  • There are approximately 1,115,000 firefighters across the country and 745,000 are volunteers.

Fireman Keesler Fly said students get instruction and hands-on experience.

“Just yesterday, they were able to respond to their first fire, which definitely piqued their interest. They were able to see, you know, some of the things we’ve been talking about class in action,” Fly stated.

“We went to a fire scene and that kind of got my heart beating. I kind of got an adrenaline rush watching what these guys get paid to do,” said Johnson.

“They’re tested to the same skill level as the firefighters that go to the recruit academies,” Fly explained. “So we go through the lecture in the classroom, we go through the hands on, and they have to perform certain skills to be able to be certified to do the job.”

They’re hoping to increase enrollment. If you’re interested and want to learn more click here, contact your school guidance counselor or call the Livingston Parish Fire Protection District 4 at 225-664-7123.