Cal-JAC Pre-Apprenticeship Academy Graduates First Class

The California Firefighter Joint Apprenticeship Committee (Cal-JAC) Academy, graduated its first class this past June. The academy is a groundbreaking, pre-apprenticeship program, designed to remove barriers from entering the fire service for qualified candidates that demonstrate economic need. 

The program was a 6-month long, 12-hour a week commitment that was tuition free thanks to a grant from the California Community College Chancellor’s Office. Candidates were able to complete entry level written and physical testing requirements, while earning EMT certification. In total, 18 cadets graduated the program and all of them passed the National Registry Exam to become an EMT, the highest pass rate in the state. Twenty-eight percent of the graduates are women, compared with the overall work force, which is about five percent female. The graduates are also ethnically diverse with 17% identifying as Hispanic, 17% identifying as African-American and 11% identifying as Asian.

All graduates are now on FCTC’s statewide eligibility list, providing a diverse pool of high-quality candidates to the nearly 100 departments that use the list for hiring. Each were guaranteed an interview with the Sacramento City Fire Department as well. The Butte County Office of Education has also offered a $500 scholarship to all academy attendees to use toward tuition and/or books at any community college or state university.  Many of the cadets have used the scholarship to enroll in a pre-paramedic program.

“We now have 18 individuals that have a path into the fire service who would have otherwise had no opportunities to get in,” said Yvonne de la Peña, executive director of the Cal-JAC. “This program changed the trajectory of their lives and serving their communities has given them a new purpose.” 

The graduation ceremony, held at Sacramento’s Crest Theater, included remarks by Sacramento mayor Darrell Steinberg, who praised the program for making a positive difference.

The second Cal-JAC Academy will begin after the first of the year.

We are breaking new ground by extending the idea of apprenticeship and workforce development to other areas where the demand is great…younger people will have workforce experience whether or not they go to a four-year college. This group of graduates are ground breakers.
— Darrell Steinberg, Mayor of Sacramento