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District Celebrate 20 Years of Partnership
Posted 5/16/19


May 23, 2019

Golden Sierra High School-Garden Valley Fire Protection


District Celebrate 20 Years of Partnership

Twenty years ago, Superintendent-Principal Jeremy Meyers asked Garden Valley fire fighter Mike Sampson to teach fire science in Golden Sierra’s Regional Occupational Program (ROP) program. Garden Valley Fire Chief Bob Woods approved the project. On June 13 the Black Oak Mine Unified School District Board of Trustees will honor Sampson and fellow Garden Valley fire fighters for twenty years of exemplary partnership in providing GSJSH students with the Fire/Emergency Medical Responder program in today’s Career Technical Program (CTE).

What began as a single class now provides students a two-year program with career opportunities in fire science and emergency medical response. Junior and senior high school students are eligible and next year’s program has become so sought after that students will have to apply for one of twenty spots.

The program begins with an Emergency Medical Responder course in which students study to become certified in CPR and receive a Basic Life Support Provider card. Extensive coursework includes life and biological sciences with teacher Corrine Staves, who took over from Sampson in 2015, as well as from guest lecturers such as local chiropractor and volunteer fireman Keith Harston, Chaplain Terry Brown, CHP and CalStar. Successful students receive an EMR certificate when they turn eighteen.

The next phase of the program focuses on the fire side of the career with the study of the chemistry of fire, classifications of fire and building construction. Students do online coursework about the Incident Command System and receive certificates of completion. GVFPD Assistant Chief Linda Szczepanik teaches wildland firefighting essential skills that include fire behavior, how to cut line, set back fire and lay progressive hose lays. Students receive certificates that qualify them for entry level jobs.

Additional skills taught include Low Angle Rope Rescue, extraction, ladders and the opportunity to climb a 24-foot ladder in a stadium rise. The final exam is an arrival drill in which students park an engine, size up the incident, don their gear, secure water to a hose that is then pulled to a structure. Students are timed.  

Throughout the program, students experience real life situations such as ride-alongs on the Georgetown Fire Medic Unit or the engine at Garden Valley FPD, field trips to Head Start to work with children and to the Sierra College Fire Academy.

Success is the hallmark of this program, one of the few in the state that teaches both structure and wildland fire protection. Graduation of the class of 2019 took place on May 10. Recent grads include Bryan Nixon, Emma Michul, Jack Webb, Zack Lamphere, and Tyler Wright from GSJSH. Also graduating from this year’s program are former Army serviceman Brian Morris, son of GSJSHS Assistant Principal Ron Morris and GSJSH graduate Michelle Gerondakis who returned for this career training opportunity.