The Concord High School Fire Academy is led by Chief David Barlow.
The requirements for the Certification include taking the class for three semesters and passing the written exams as well as completing all of the Practical Skills. After graduation, the CHSFA, in partnership with Concord Fire Department, will offer a “Graduate Boot Camp” that will review in a condensed time frame many of the Practical Skills and prepare graduates to join either a volunteer fire department, The Concord Department of Fire and Life Safety Reserve Program, or go on to a full career in the Fire Service.
North Carolina has three other programs, E.E. Smith High School Fire Academy in Fayetteville, Dixon High School’s Public Safety Academy in Onslow County, and beginning Jan. 2011, Hickory High School in Catawba County will begin its program.
The program at Concord High School resembles a JROTC program complete with an Honor Guard that presents the colors at school, civic, and other functions. During the past year the CHSFA Honor Guard presented the colors on several different occasions including: Open House, the National Technical Honor Society Induction, and graduation. This year the Honor Guard will be presenting the colors at all of the home football games. The guard recently served as the Honor Guard for a military funeral procession, and have plans to participate in the Concord Christmas Parade in November
On Friday, Sept. 3, 2010, the Concord High School Fire Academy dedicated and took possession of a 1973 American LaFrance fire engine that was formerly used by the City of Concord Department of Fire and Life Safety. During the ceremony, the engine was officially named “The Black Widow” in honor of the school’s mascot — the spider.
Through a special agreement, the Cabarrus County Board of Education is leasing the equipment from the City of Concord for $1 per year for five years. Previously, the fire department provided a reserve engine to the academy on a regular basis. Leasing the unit will provide the academy with an on-site educational and training tool without affecting the fire department. The school’s program, in its second year, has an enrollment of more than 120 students.
“The wet down ceremony is a tradition similar to the tradition of wetting a ship in the Navy,” said Barlow. “The wetting down of the apparatus and crew symbolizes the protection from fire.”
“There was a lot of excitement over the truck by the whole school and now the academy will have its own unit on site for the skills portions of fire science classes,” says Barlow.
Barlow says Concord’s program was one of three in the state and the only one to use a direct delivery approach, since he is certified and the school does not have to go through the community college for students to earn certain levels of certification.
Concord High School will have something special at their football games this season when they take “The Black Widow” on the field and run the sirens for every touchdown.