Two Gloucester High School students gained firefighter certification at the end of the school year through their firefighting course at New Horizons Regional Education Center.
Rising seniors Alonso Mena and Levi Cluts completed the course and passed the examination to earn their state and national firefighter certification. As seniors, both will pursue certification as Emergency Medical Technicians, also at New Horizons, and be fully prepared for jobs as professional firefighters.
The half-day fire science course included training in basic life support, handling hazardous materials, fire suppression and prevention, and arson investigation. Instruction takes place both in the classroom and in the field, utilizing a burn building and other outdoor facilities for fire training.
"It’s a great class," said Mena, who is already a volunteer with Abingdon Fire and Rescue. "You get college credits, certified and you really bond with others taking the class. We also had a great instructor." The course is taught by Mike Gabany, a retired Peninsula assistant fire chief who resides in Gloucester.
"It’s something I wanted to do since I was a kid. And it’s not just a job, it’s a career. It’s definitely a great profession for whoever is interested, especially if you like heat, being on fire and intensive workouts," Mena added, "And I like to be where the action is."
Cluts said he would likely join the Abingdon firefighters when he turns 18 and like Mena, sees the New Horizons training as part of his career preparation. "I didn’t want to be one of those people stuck behind a desk," he said of his career choice.