Sioux City students during firefighter training. (KSCJ photo)

Several students are using the Sioux City School District’s career academy training to become firefighters once they graduate.

Sergeant Bluff Fire Chief Anthony Gaul leads the program that includes college courses. “They’ve got two classes they’re Western Iowa Tech credit classes, fire protection systems, principles of emergency services there’s the Emergency Medical Responder — they can’t take that until they are 17 — that’s a state rule,” he says. “Second semester of their senior year they can take firefighter one and hazardous materials.”

Gaul says many students are also getting real-world experience at local departments to go along with the classes. “Three in Sergeant Bluff, one at the 185th (Iowa Air Guard) fire department now. We have just added another one so there are five in North Sioux City and three in South Sioux City and more trying to come along all the time now,” Gaul says.

Jackson Johnson of Sioux City East High School hopes to become the third generation of his family to be a Sioux City firefighter.
“Some days we’re in here learning about stuff on the TV and then other days we’re doing a lot of hands-on and go into stations, go into Sergeant bluff and we do stuff down there too it definitely opens your mind about a lot of this stuff in here,” Johnson says.

Chief Gaul says it’s fun to see the students get excited as they learn and train to be firefighters. Many fire departments across the state are struggling to find new people to fill their open positions, and it’s hoped this program will help fill the gap.

(By Woody Gottburg, KSCJ, Sioux City)

Radio Iowa