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Columbia College Graduates Fire Academy Students

Columbia College’s Fire Academy officials have announced the graduation and awarding of Certificates of Completion to the successful students of the Fire Technology Program.

The certificates are awarded based on the student’s successful completion of the academic and manipulative training as mandated for a California Firefighter 1 Certification. The students must still complete six months of full-time or one year of part-time field experience before applying to the state for Firefighter I Certification.

“Some of the graduates will apply or continue with reserve, intern, and volunteer in positions at local fire departments since entering the academy,” said Chief Shane Warner, Columbia College Fire Technology Program Coordinator/Instructor.

“Some of the students have already applied through a standard application process for seasonal employment with CAL Fire, Forest Service, and local fire agencies,” added Instructor Andy VanHoogmoed.

These students have completed an intense 16 weeks of training. The rigorous training is designed to help serious candidates meet the requirements for demanding careers as professional firefighters, including more than 576 hours of academic and manipulative training, according to Chief Warner.

In addition to the “routine” fire training classes, specialized training was delivered involving Incident Command System, Hazardous Materials Training, Seasonal Wildland Firefighting classes, Confined Space, Basic Power Saw Safety, and live fire suppression training which was conducted at the Twain Harte Fire Department’s Training Center. A special thank you goes out to Columbia College Fire Department, Columbia Fire District, Sonora City Fire Department, Twain Harte Fire Department, Tuolumne Bank of Me-Wuk Indian Rancheria Fire Department, Tuolumne City Fire Department, Mi Wuk Sugar Pine Fire Department, Tuolumne County Fire Department, CAL Fire TCU, and Sierra Conservation Center.

“Each of these students deserves credit for their determination and perseverance,” said Steve Amador, Dean of Career Technical Education. “There is no doubt that this year has been challenging, yet these Fire Academy students have proven to themselves, and to their community that hard work can overcome obstacles, including the many difficulties we have faced this year. I am honored to call these Fire Academy students - graduates of Columbia College.”

“The Fire Academy tests the strength of character of young men and women,” noted Dr. Santanu Bandyopadhyay, President of Columbia College. “This year’s graduates deserve special recognition for overcoming the COVID-19 odds, both inside and outside the classroom. Great job, graduates!”

The traditional Columbia College Fire Academy graduation ceremony cannot be observed under the current circumstances. Once the pandemic is over, an alternate for graduation will be decided upon and the graduates will be informed accordingly.