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Columbia College Graduates Fire Academy Students
Columbia College

Columbia College’s Fire Academy recently hosted a graduation and presented Certificates of Completion to the successful students of the Fire Technology Program. Students that completed Firefighter 1 and 2 were awarded their certificates on Dec. 10, in Carkeet Park. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ceremony itself was private and limited to students and a few dignitaries.

The certificates are awarded based on the student’s successful completion of the academic and manipulative training as mandated for a California Firefighter 1 and 2 Certification. The students must still complete six months of full-time or one year of part-time field experience before applying to the state for Firefighter 1 and 2 Certification.

“Some of the graduates will apply or continue with reserve, intern, and volunteer in positions at local fire departments since entering the academy,” said Chief Shane Warner, Columbia College Fire Technology Program Coordinator/Instructor.

“Some of the students have already applied through a standard application process for seasonal employment with CAL Fire, Forest Service, and local fire agencies,” added Instructor Andy Van Hoogmoed.

These students have completed an intense 16 weeks of training. The rigorous training is designed to help serious candidates meet the requirements for demanding careers as professional firefighters, including more than 576 hours of academic and manipulative training, according to Warner.

Graduates, in alphabetical order, included: Mathew Anderson, Stockton; John Derick Avila, Hughson; Chloe Chase, Mariposa; True Cooke, Oakdale; Eric Degraff, Oakdale; Ruben Espinoza, Tuolumne; Cristobal Gutierrez, Modesto; Nicoline Icardo, Twain Harte; Justin Jacobson, Oakdale; Haley Lawhon, Mariposa; D’Angelo Malaspino, Jackson; Erik Marino, Hayward; Erin Nanik, Murphys; Coleman Neely, Ione; Jessica Palmer, Mariposa; Gage Pankey, Twain Harte; Eric Riddle, Oakdale; Scott Robertson, Modesto; Jonathan Talavera-Dean, Tuolumne; Alonzo Teixeira, Escalon; Collin Towe, Waterford; and Samuel Tucker, Mariposa.

In addition to the “routine” fire training classes, specialized training was delivered involving Incident Command System, Hazardous Materials Training, Seasonal Wildland Firefighting classes, Confined Space, Basic Power Saw Safety, and live fire suppression training which was conducted at the Twain Harte Fire Department’s Training Center. A special thank you goes out to Columbia College Fire Department, Ebbetts Pass Fire District, Columbia Fire District, Sonora City Fire Department, Twain Harte Fire Department, Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuk Indian Rancheria Fire Department, Tuolumne City Fire Department, Mi Wuk Sugar Pine Fire Department, Tuolumne County Fire Department, CAL Fire TCU, and Sierra Conservation Center.

“Columbia College Fire Science students are always looked at as role models on our campus,” said Steve Amador, Dean of Career Technical Education. “These students are hardworking and dedicated to their success. They have completed this intensive 16-week program during COVID and have shown their fellow students, their families, and their community that hard work can overcome the toughest of obstacles. I am proud of each and every one of them.”

Columbia’s Interim President, G.H. Javaheripour, commented, “Our students worked hard under difficult conditions related to the pandemic in order to complete their training, which speaks to their desire to serve the community. Columbia Fire Technology program trains graduates in our region to ensure the safety of our residents’ health and properties. I thank the cadre of our faculty and the supporting agencies that contribute to the development of Columbia College students.”