Less than a year ago, Mission College graduated its first ever class from the Firefighter 1 Academy and already, those graduates are making an impact.
Many of the 30 cadets accepted into the Academy last fall have found places in local fire departments. Two found their way to CalFire. Others joined local agencies, including Palo Alto, San Francisco and Marin County.
Tony Khauv was a member of the first class of graduates from the Firefighter 1 Academy. He joined San Jose Fire Department (SJFD) and has already found himself using the skills he learned in class. Khauv was deployed to the Oak Fire near Yosemite in July and the McKinnley Fire in Northern California near the Oregon border after that.
“The Mission College academy had a wildland portion which definitely helped me prepare for this challenge,” said Khauv.
Khauv says he was in the process of interviewing with SJFD when he started attending Mission College’s academy. While the academy didn’t help him get the job, it did ensure he succeeded when he began his training as a recruit. SJFD required 20 additional weeks of training before recruits become firefighters.
“Every recruit academy has people that quit for various reasons, two of them are either injuries or that it is just too exhausting. Every single aspect of the Mission College academy was useful. It was a great middle step to prepare me for the actual SJFD recruit academy,” said Khauv.
Khauv says the 16 weeks that he spent training at Mission College really helped him feel comfortable when he entered the fire academy.
“The biggest benefit was the fact that I was introduced to all the equipment before getting hired,” said Khauv. “I can’t imagine getting hired and going through a full on fire department academy and not seeing the equipment beforehand. The Mission College academy gave me confidence going into the SJFD recruit academy because I was already introduced to all the equipment and skills. I was familiar with how to handle the equipment.”
Mission College will start training a new batch of future firefighters on Aug. 27. The program is rigorous. It’s a full-time, full semester course that teaches students to deal with structure fires, wildland fires and hazardous materials response, among other things. Through the course, students will practice even the most mundane of tasks until it is ingrained in them.
Khauv knows firsthand that the lessons the cadets learn at the Mission College Firefighter 1 Academy will be invaluable to them in the future.
“I will go as far as to say that I probably would have failed the SJFD recruit academy had it not been for Captain [Ryan] Cronin and Mission College,” said Khauv. “When you get hired by a department, the training is very aggressive and fast paced. What I learned from the Mission College academy helped me succeed today and not only land my dream job but be good at it.”