The Pandemic’s Impact on Fresno City College’s Fire Academy

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Fresno City College’s Fire Academy poses for a photo while volunteering in town. Photo courtesy: City of Fresno’s Instagram page.

Story By: Lauren Tacotaco, Reporter

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Class 55 of Fresno City College’s Fire Academy has continued its regular operations including volunteering with multiple organizations in Fresno.

Peter Cacossa, the director of the fire academy, says the academy has been affected by the pandemic resulting in varying class sizes and changes in protocol. 

According to Cacossa, the previous class during the fall 2020 semester was much smaller than the current spring 2021 class. 

The reason being that students in the past were not able to complete their National Registry tests because many testing centers shut down due to COVID.

The National Registry test, also known as the National Registry Emergency Medical Technician cognitive exam, is required for fire academy students as it certifies the ability to provide safe and effective entry level emergency medical care.

With the reopening of testing centers, Class 55 has actually doubled the size of the previous class, according to Cacossa. 

He says having this big of a class has made the classroom experience interesting since class size has to be limited and students are socially distanced due to pandemic guidelines. 

Class 55 is organized in companies, or small groups, with a few adjunct faculty, keeping the companies as small as possible in order to ensure the safety of its students and staff. 

The only aspect that stayed relatively the same is the hands-on learning portion of the course.

There are many training sessions the class goes through involving loud noises and moving machinery so at times, the class needs to work together in tight spaces or for specific fire scenarios. 

All fire cadets wear masks, use the required personal protective equipment and gear in order to receive the proper hands on training required for the program.

While taking mandatory precautions, Class 55 has also continued to help out in the community. 

Most recently, Class 55 has been volunteering with Beautify Fresno, according to the Fire Academy’s Instagram page

Beautify Fresno is a nonprofit organization in which efforts are made to clean the city’s neighborhoods, streets, and highways.  

In one of the academy’s posts, the caption states Class 55 has been volunteering for two weeks straight.

In the same post, the President of Class 55, Nicholas Trahan, is seen being interviewed. 

The idea to volunteer with this specific organization came from a brainstorming session between Trahan and Jason Lum, Vice President of Class 55.

“We wanted to find an organization that focused on bettering our entire community and would allow us to get right to the heart of service. Beautify Fresno perfectly fit this bill and allowed us to make a real definitive difference right here in town,” Trahan told The Rampage.

Trahan hopes that by volunteering, Class 55 will gain skills, connections, information, and passion for service and utilize them later in their careers.

He says the pandemic has certainly changed how the class volunteers as they have to limit what they do, where they go, and who they volunteer with.

However, it certainly does not limit the amount of service they carry out.