La Pine firefighter program instills brotherhood
During their three year residence at La Pine’s fire station, student firefighters gain first-hand experience with the brotherhood.
“You hang out during shift, you hang out off shift. They become your brothers,” said Danny Hinton, second year student firefighter. “It’s part of the job.”
Trust is an important aspect of the brotherhood between firefighters, according to Hinton.
“We have to trust each other,” Hinton said. “We have to work together.”
The brotherhood is the reason second year student firefighter Brett Hulstrom wants to become a firefighter. He was a volunteer firefighter in his hometown of Jacksonville, Oregon when he was still in high school.
“We all have each other’s backs,” Hulstrom said. “If one of these guys had a flat tire, I’d drive out and help fix their car, no thoughts about it.”
The three year degree program offers students the training needed to become a first responder. Upon graduation students receive their fire science, emergency medical service degrees and paramedic certification from Central Oregon Community College.
“It’s taught me everything I’d need to know to be a firefighter,” Hinton said, “the ins and outs of the fire service.”
Captain Mark Pautz, a COCC alumnus, graduated from the La Pine resident student firefighter program in 1999, and now runs the program.
“I was a student,” Pautz said. “I’ve been with La Pine my whole career.”
Upon being hired, Pautz’ goal was to run the program and make it one of the best programs in the state.
“It’s an awesome program,” said Pautz, “They get their education, all their training. They’re going to have everything they need to be hirable.”
Students get hands-on experience, according to Pautz.
“As soon as they’re trained, they’re right out there with us,” Pautz said. “They’re taking medical patients, fighting fires, rescuing people out of car crashes.”
Students accepted into the program go through a six-week training academy in August.
“The fire service is about working hard,” first year student fighter Travis Harrison said. “You’re always moving.”
The program is funded by the La Pine Fire District through tax dollars, Pautz said.
“We pay full-ride scholarships,” Pautz said. “They provide us with the hard work. Sweat equity.”
What Firefighters wear:
Turnouts- Three Layer Jacket and Pants
Self Contained Breathing Apparatus
Steel-toed rubber boots