JASPER, Texas (KTRE) - Years in the making and with funding secured, an accredited fire training program is coming to the Jasper ISD Career and Technical Education system. The firefighter training facility is being made possible through a partnership between several Jasper County entities. Organizers say the program will benefit more than just Jasper High School students.
Using ideas from the Kilgore College Fire Training Program, the Lamar Institute of Technology will coordinate a similar program into the Career and Technical Education offerings at Jasper ISD.
Jasper County Emergency Service District (ESD) #4 is spearheading the efforts after the approval of the Sales and Use Tax referendum by voters in November.
“If we’re giving our kids better opportunities, it’s going to improve their lives, their income and it’s going to improve our communities and schools,” Jasper ISD Superintendent John Seybold said.
And it’s not just for Jasper ISD. With the local consortium of school districts under the Deep East Texas College and Career Academy, high school students from Burkeville ISD, Kirbyville ISD, Newton ISD, Spurger ISD and Woodville ISD can attend.
“It increases volunteerism with things this fire field and academy will do here, Jasper ESD #4 Board Member Chris Lanier said. “And for those who want to build it for a career, it is a perfect steppingstone to do that straight out of high school.”
The state-certified fire training facility will be on land owned by the City of Jasper near the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Goodman Unit. With the help of the Jasper Economic Development Board and County’s Emergency Services Districts, they will perform improvements and infrastructure work to get it ready.
“I know we look at winning the big prize of bringing a huge company here but there’s more to it than that we’ve got to have people trained to do things that companies want to come here,” Jasper Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Eddie Hopkins said.
Officials said having the facility will also affect the cost of insurance for residents and fire departments. “The more field work we get, the more experience, certified firefighters we have, the lower the rates are going to go,” Jasper ESD #4 President Sam Job said. “The more we can afford to build bigger stations and have better trucks.” Officials said infrastructure improvements and construction is expected to cost around a half million dollars.
“We’re trying to do it consciously where we’re not just throwing millions of dollars at a project like this,” Beech Grove Volunteer Fire Department Chief James Gunter said. “We want to make sure that we’re spending the taxpayers’ dollars wisely. The energy level is high, and the community is behind it.”
Officials hope to implement the program by the 2022 fall semester and the facility to be complete soon after that. Once students complete the program, they will become state certified firefighters through the Texas Commission on Fire Protection and EMTs through the Texas Department of State Health Services.