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Burnet area youth can explore police, firefighting careers through program

JARED FIELDS • PICAYUNE STAFF

BURNET — Future firefighters and police officers usually graduate high school before beginning on their career path.

For Burnet area youth, however, that soon might change.

The Burnet fire and police departments are starting a Career Exploring program through the Boys Scouts of America. The programs are open to graduated eighth-grade students to 20-year-olds who want a taste of life as a firefighter or a police officer.

The two departments will co-host an information meeting 6-8 p.m. Dec. 3 at the Burnet Community Center, 401 E. Jackson St.[box]IF YOU GO
WHAT: Career Exploring information meeting
WHEN: 6-8 p.m. Dec. 3
WHERE: Burnet Community Center, 401 E. Jackson St. in Burnet[/box]

“It’s not a program where we’ll preach to them for two to three hours,” said Burnet Fire Department EMS coordinator Lealand Raiford. “We want it to be cool, we want it to be fun and we want it to be high speed.”

Students will get the opportunity to work with the department of their choosing and participate in training activities.

Burnet Police Chief Paul Nelson said the law enforcement program will show all sides of the career.

“Our goal is to reach kids at this age and get them trusting in law enforcement,” he said. “Throughout the meetings, one month might be felony takedowns, and we’ll practice that. The next month may be an investigation class that an investigator will lead. One month might be studying the penal code and traffic code.”

After time, students even might be eligible to go on ride-alongs with the departments.

It’s all done to provide students interested in the two fields a chance to learn about a possible career before making a decision.

“It’s not something where we say, ‘Come here, and we’ll tell you how to be a firefighter,'” Raiford said. “Some kids may just learn life skills.”

A community service aspect also is involved in the program. Raiford said fire department participants may help at large events such as the Bluebonnet Festival or A Day Out with Thomas the Tank Engine to provide basic first-aid assistance. Nelson said the law enforcement program might have students help direct traffic or ride along with patrol officers during similar events.

While the programs aren’t a direct link to future employment, those who participate could find themselves right back in the departments later down the road.

“We’ll remember they attended the Explorer Program, and they’ll be up front and at the top of the list to be sent to the academy or hired by Burnet PD,” Nelson said. “It’s not a guarantee, but they’ll definitely be on top.”

jared@thepicayune.com