California’s first-ever pre-apprenticeship program provides a direct pathway to the fire service
Beginning in January 2018, a pool of roughly 50 candidates will be taking their first steps toward a career in the fire service, and along the way, will be helping blaze the trail for the state’s first ever firefighter pre-apprenticeship model.
The Cal-JAC Academy, being offered through a grant received from the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office, will offer candidates who successfully demonstrated financial need a roughly six-month, tuition-free, emergency medical technician (EMT) course, as well as a opportunity to place their name on the FCTC Statewide Eligibility List by completing the CPAT and Written Exam.
“The Cal-JAC Academy provides a direct path to the fire service for candidates who, otherwise, may not have had the opportunity or resources needed to pursue this career,” said Yvonne de la Pena, executive director for the Cal-JAC. “We’re proud to be able to work with our partner agencies to remove these barriers to entry, and work toward building a fire service that more closely mirrors the communities it serves.”
Candidates who complete the Cal-JAC Academy will also be offered a guaranteed oral interview with the Sacramento Fire Department, making the academy an unmatched opportunity for those looking to enter the profession.
“Through the Cal-JAC Academy, we’re going to be able to provide an opportunity to candidates in need,” said Sacramento Fire Chief Walt White. “We’re thrilled to be working together with the Cal-JAC on this innovative program.”
During the roughly two-month recruitment period, hundreds of individuals applied to be considered for a spot in the academy. Following a program orientation and academic assessment, a panel of experts including fire chiefs, labor presidents and program instructors conducted interviews to select the Cal-JAC Academy’s inaugural class.
Thanks to CPF advocacy in the legislature, an additional pool of funds was secured to launch a second pre-apprenticeship program within another California fire department.
"Programs such as these provide an invaluable level of access to the fire service, often for those who may not previously had the opportunity," said Lou Paulson, president of California Professional Firefighters. "As we embark on the second of California's firefighter pre-apprenticeship programs, we look forward to potentially making this model standard throughout the state."