February 03. 2013 10:34PM

Manchester School of Technology to offer firefighter certification

New Hampshire Union Leader

MANCHESTER - Manchester School of Technology is planning to add firefighter certification for students enrolled in the school's public safety program.

School officials have been working with the Manchester Fire Department for about a year to design a curriculum that would give students who successfully complete the program state Firefighter I certification.

Lt. Leo Roy, who would coordinate the program with the New Hampshire Fire Academy, said the course is a natural fit.

MST's public safety department already offers coursework in policing, criminology and forensics.

"It fit into their curriculum perfectly," Roy said. "It's designed more to making it easier for those who truly know at the high school level that they want to go this route. It just makes that pathway for them a little easier to obtain."

Principal Karen White said Molly Dobmeier, who oversees public safety at MST, has been coordinating with Roy to set up the program and do the necessary planning and documentation to get it in line for approval.

"She has been working on this - after school, at night - for probably the last year," White said. "She's such a huge advocate for students."

MST will present the plan on Wednesday to school board's Curriculum and Instruction Committee, which will decide whether to send it to the full board for a vote. The state Board of Education would then need to approve it in order for MST to offer the course starting in the 2013-14 school year.

The course would feature a wide range of subjects including fire behavior, suppression methods, first aid, hoses and nozzles, ventilation and radio communications.

"Public safety can be many, many things. We try to find as many ways as possible to interest students," White said. "We try to get them to find their own interests and pathways and provide as much in that foundation as possible. This is one of the ways we're going to do that."

The certification would take one semester for students already enrolled in MST's public safety program. It would require much more time than other classes because of the material involved, as well as off-campus training.

"If we don't have the support of the fire department then this isn't going to be possible," White said.

Interested applicants will go through an interview, when they will be fully informed what is involved physically and the time required.

"It's going to be probably under 20 students," White said. "They are going to have to be very dedicated to want to be in this."

Roy, who is also the training director for Young Rescuers USA and works with other youth firefighting organizations, said the certification course would be a great addition to the career-oriented programs at MST.

"I've been trying to get this going for a number of years," Roy said. "I think we can put together an incredibly dynamic program."