Left to right: Sarah McGee (LASA); Asst. Chief Richard Davis (AFD); Genoice Walker (LBJ); Asst. Chief Aaron Woolverton (AFD); Guadalupe Castaneda (LBJ); Asst. Chief Pablo Ruiz (AFD); Raavi Chokhawala (LASA).
by Ann Fowler
AUSTIN – Students at the LBJ Fire Academy will make good use of $70,000 worth of equipment donated to it by the Austin Fire Department (AFD) on Sept. 15.
Assistant Chief Aaron Woolverton said, “We’re donating 69 air packs and 15 turnout ensembles to a program at AISD … to help our young people consider a career in public safety and the fire service. We are very proud of this program and look forward to getting more life out of this equipment the Fire Department no longer needs.”
The LBJ Fire Academy, housed at LBJ High School, was established in 2006 and has about 200 graduates. The two-year program gives students the opportunity to receive firefighter and emergency medical technician (EMT) certification and college credit. Not all of the students will go into fire service. The medical aspects may spur some to go to into nursing or attend medical school. Others may attend the program for the challenge—and it certainly looks good on a college resume.
Leon Hudson, EMS and Fire Training Coordinator at the LBJ Fire Academy, told the Gazette, “I don’t have exact figures regarding how many alums are in the fire service, but I know of at least ten graduates working at fire departments, five working for EMS services, and several who are in college nursing programs, one labor and delivery nurse, and one graduate who began medical school this year.
“We recruit students during the sophomore year from six AISD high schools: Anderson, Austin, Lanier, LASA, LBJ and McCallum,” said Hudson. Students attend the first class of the day at the Fire Academy, then return to their home campuses for the remainder of each school day.
Fire Academy students attending the donation ceremony were Genoice Walker III, Guadalupe Castaneda, Raavi Chokhawala and Sarah McGee. The students demonstrated how quickly they could prepare to fight a fire by donning the fire apparel in just over a minute.
McGee, a junior at LASA, lives in Circle C. Her mother, Cheryl, was also on hand. She said her daughter wants to become a marine biologist, but is enjoying the challenges of the program.
Walker’s grandfather became one of the first African American firemen in Galveston 60 years ago.
For more information on the LBJ Fire Academy, see www.LBJFire.org.