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Published on February 28th, 2014 | by Millennium Magazine Staff



BLYTHEWOOD, S.C. — WestwoodHigh School has received a grant from the South Carolina State Firefighters Association (SCSFA) for its Emergency and Fire Management program. Bryan G. Riebe, Recruitment and Retention Grant Coordinator for the SCSFA, made the announcement today during a press conference at the school.

“The need is great to reach high school age students and get them interested in fire services,” said Riebe. “We’ve learned that if you have students involved early they most often will continue to serve their local communities.” 

The Emergency and Fire Management program began at WestwoodHigh School when the school opened in 2012. Students successfully completing the program receive a nationally-recognized fire certification, allowing them to start a career immediately after graduation at the age of 18. Career and Technology Education Instructor Steve Wilson says he will use the $7,500 grant to purchase tools and other equipment.

According to Riebe, about 80 percent of fire service nationally is volunteer-based while here in South Carolina it’s at the 63 percent level. “A study showed that South Carolina needs to at least double its current number of firefighters to provide adequate fire protection, especially in rural areas,” said Riebe.

SCSFA received a SAFER (Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Responders) grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in 2012. The grant provides a total of $180,000 for the annual awarding of $7,500 grants on a competitive basis to six South Carolina high schools offering firefighting through their Career and Technology Education programs.

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