Firefighters are in high demand in central Wisconsin
For the City Times
Demand for firefighters in central Wisconsin will soon receive a needed boost with the addition of a new Fire Protection Technician program at Mid-State Technical College.
The program starts in August, and Mid-State is now accepting applications to the program. The Fire Technician Protection program, a two-year associate degree, was developed in partnership with local fire departments and will be based at Mid-State’s Wisconsin Rapids Campus.
Mid-State Associate Dean Rick Anderson believes graduates from the new program will be in high demand among local fire departments. In development of the new program, college officials met with local fire departments to discuss the need, and Anderson says they heard the same feedback time and time again.
“Fire departments throughout central Wisconsin told us they are in need of additional highly-skilled firefighters,” said Anderson. “And that number will only grow as current firefighters retire.”
Looming retirements are certainly a very real problem at local fire departments. Without an influx of new talent, the area’s shortage of highly-skilled firefighters could become critical.
In development of the program, college officials learned that a total of 30 full-time firefighters would be needed in the next five years just to replace those who are retiring. Overall, the need for firefighters is expected to grow 5 percent nationally from 2014 to 2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Mid-State’s Fire Protection Technician program prepares graduates for a career in fire prevention and protection. Students learn knowledge and techniques for solving fire, hazardous material and medical emergencies.
Instruction is offered through a combination of realistic classroom simulation and hands-on experience on high-tech equipment at fire training facilities. The college recently purchased two fire engines for training purposes and already has a state-of-the art burn tower at Wisconsin Rapids Campus. Mid-State also jointly uses a fire training facility in Marshfield in partnership with Marshfield Fire and Rescue Department.
There has always been a need for firefighters locally, but previous to this program, people interested in firefighting were forced to leave the area to get the training they need. Anderson says that 47 people in just the last three years left Mid-State’s district to get training similar to what is now being offered at Mid-State. As a result, Anderson believes the program will be very popular from the start.
“People living here in central Wisconsin will no longer need to relocate to get the training and education they need to be firefighters,” said Anderson.
Area fire departments will now have a local resource for hiring talented firefighters.
To learn more about Mid-State’s Fire Protection Technician associate degree program and how to enroll, contact Rick Anderson at 715-422-5473.