VALPARAISO — For the Kings, there’s another firefighter in the family. For Northwest Indiana, there’s the potential for 15 more firefighters.
As Morgan Township Fire Chief Brad King looked on, son David King was among 15 high school students to graduate Tuesday from Porter County Career and Technical Education’s inaugural fire and rescue training program.
“I’m pretty proud and very excited,” said Brad King, a 30-year veteran of the Morgan Township volunteer firefighters. “He wanted to do this. He’s been coming down to the fire station since he was old enough to walk.”
David King, a 17-year-old junior at Morgan Township, said it's "really cool to learn how fire works, but what’s really important is showing up on the worst day in someone’s life and trying to make their day better.”
Brad King offered his son this advice: “Stay on top of your training. You never have enough training.”
The first-year program offered plenty of training, as students spent one-half of their school day at the Multi Agency Academic Cooperative in Valparaiso. While at the MAAC, students completed classroom instruction and practical skills training required for Firefighter I and II certification.
Training included fire service mission, equipment, fire behavior, advanced fire attack, vehicle extrication and alarm-suppression systems.
Stewart G. McMillan, fire chief for the MAAC emergency services training campus, never thought the program would happen. Now, he said, “It’s the best thing we’ve done. You see how the kids turn out, going from kids to adults. I’m certain if they see a child choking in a restaurant, they’ll do the Heimlich maneuver, while everyone else watches.”
Teresa Janovitz, who with Bob Schulte served as principal instructors, said students scored nearly 100 percent on written tests and skills exercises.
“They’ve had the best possible experience for high school,” Janovitz said. “These students are going to do great things.”
Three class members received scholarships to continue their education. They are Caila Vale, from Hebron High School; Jeffrey Furst, Valparaiso High School; and Russell Mueller, Kouts High School. Furst was also voted class captain, while Anabelle Williford from Boone Grove High School was salutatorian and Mueller was valedictorian.
Vale, 18, cited family bonding through firefighter training. “You get kids from different schools, different personalities, and you have fun,” the Hebron senior said, noting, “We put in a lot of hard work.”
Vale plans to continue her studies in paramedics and fire science at Ivy Tech Community College.”
Collin Huff, 18, a Wheeler High School senior, said he learned to rely on others and not just himself. Huff, who plans to enter the Marines, noted, “When I come back, I want to be able to get work as a firefighter.”
While the initial class had two females, Janovitz reported the upcoming class has 10 females among the 19 students registered. Classes begin Aug. 14.