By Tamas Mondovics

In an effort to spark a career interest in at-risk middle and high school students between the ages of 14-17 to become the nation’s next firefighters, emergency medical technicians and paramedics, Hillsborough County Fire Rescue is once again hosting its free annual Summer Youth Academy.

Considered as one of the summer’s most special camps, this year’s academy is part of a crime prevention program that is partially funded by a U.S. Department of Justice grant, and has been scheduled to be held from June 17-28, 8 a.m.–4 p.m. at the Fire Rescue Training Facility at 3210 S. 78th St. in Tampa.

Captain Robert Collins of Hillsborough County Fire Rescue said that the academy offers an intense two-week-long summer camp for local youths interested in learning more about those careers and wanting to gain actual hands-on experience.

“As a cadet during this camp, students will gain hands-on, supervised experience in fire engine operation, using a fire hose, using a fire extinguisher with live flame, climbing a truck ladder, and the dangers of methamphetamine labs, all instructed by current Hillsborough County Fire Rescue professionals,” Collins said.

The grant that supports the program requires all applicants to be from low-income families and meet at least one of several requirements: requires assistance with life-skills issues such as appropriate interpersonal, conflict resolution, or anger management; needs assistance to complete an educational program or attain employment, is at risk of involvement with the juvenile justice system; or is in the foster care system.

Collins emphasized that the academy provides all necessary materials including uniforms, books and supplies, as well as a healthy lunch for each day as the children go through a remarkable transformation as they learn about first aid, CPR, disaster preparedness, physical fitness, team-building, leadership and  character development.

All applicants must include a recommendation letter from their school counselor and/or case manager with their application, and provide proof of a sports physical examination, dated after August 2012, to Fire Rescue before beginning the Academy.

The deadline for applications is Friday, May 10.

To get an application, or for more information, contact Captain Robert Collins of Hillsborough County Fire Rescue at 393-9582.


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