(This column was published in the October 26, 2017 edition of the Leadville Herald Democrat.)

By Terresa Herbst

You may be aware that Colorado Mountain College in Leadville offers such intriguing and in-demand programs as ski area operations and natural resource management. But did you know we also host Firefighter 1 (Fire Academy 1) each fall semester?  Well, we do – and students are chomping at the bit to get in!

It is exciting each fall to see 18 students go through physical testing at Leadville/Lake County Fire Rescue (LLCFR) Station 1.  Even more exciting is the SCBA (self-contained breathing apparatus) mask fitting!

This program has been conducted consistently every fall semester since 2012 under the leadership, and direction, of one of LLCFR’s own training officers, Captain Sean Simon.  Captain Simon has built a legacy of professionalism, organization and applicable skills and continues to assist with this course.  Currently, this class is led by Firefighter Greg Isaacson of Lake Dillon Fire, along with upwards of 12 assistants from a five-county area serving seven fire departments.

In addition to the great staff and facilities located in Leadville, we also partner with Colorado Mountain College Vail Valley in Edwards to provide a minimum of 12 burn days each fall semester.  Students are exposed to a variety of job performance requirements, from rolling hoses to ascending ladders, and working in a variety of burn conditions including flashover and structural.  Students also have the opportunity to sit for the state Firefighter 1 and Hazardous Material Operations written and practical exams.

This program has been further enhanced through our partnership with LLCFR’s SAFER grant, providing for resident firefighters and a new fleet of reservists.  CMC is proud to support this grant by training students in Firefighter 1, Hazardous Material Operations and Emergency Medical Technician – Basic.

Please join me in welcoming our new fleet of firefighters to Colorado Mountain College!

Terresa Herbst is assistant dean of instruction at Colorado Mountain College Leadville.