Rogue Community College's emergency services program has received a big, red boost after Medford Fire-Rescue handed them the keys to a working fire engine.
The 1993 Pierce Arrow fire engine will serve as a training vehicle for RCC students who hope to become firefighters after graduation.
Gary Heigel, RCC's department chairman of emergency services, said there's nothing better than having students train on the real thing.
"You can have all the simulations you want, but you can't beat having them work with a functional fire engine," Heigel said. "This particular engine could be in use in many rural districts right now. We are fortunate to have it for our program."
The engine was used by the Medford Fire-Rescue rural district when the agency agreed to sell it to RCC for $15,000, Heigel said.
Medford Fire-Rescue Acting Chief Gordon Sletmoe said the engine cost $207,000 when it rolled off the assembly line. "The last two engines we've purchased have cost $549,000 each," Sletmoe said. "So the price of these engines has nearly doubled in 20 years."
Fire sciences students will practice using the equipment outfitted on the engine. This will give them the ability to have hands-on experience before they take an internship position with a fire agency. "Before, the only way you could get hands-on training was to actually volunteer with a department," Heigel said. "This way, they can have that experience in school before they join a department."
RCC will use the engine during live fire trainings held throughout the year.
During this important training, a building is lit on fire and the students are tasked with dousing the flames. "We light things on fire, and they put them out," Heigel said. "They'll get experience with a charged fire hose and breaking down doors."
Firefighter hopefuls need all the experience they can get while in school, as the job market in this field is tough, Sletmoe said.
"We have about 350 applicants per recruiting, and we might end up hiring one or two," Sletmoe said. "We are looking for the best people."
Sletmoe hopes that by improving RCC's fire science classes it will deepen the recruiting pool of Medford Fire-Rescue applicants.
"We will benefit from this, which is why we are happy to provide the engine," Sletmoe said.
RCC hosts about two fire academies each year, and each class is filled with approximately 30 students.
Anyone interested in joining RCC's emergency services program can learn more about the requirements and curriculum at www.roguecc.edu/EmergencyServices.
Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471 or email@example.com.