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High school program gives teens tools to become firefighters

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A unique program in its first year at Arsenal Tech High School is giving teenagers the tools they need to jump start a career in public safety.

The program is a partnership between IPS, IFD and IEMS. Seniors in high school get to take a class that teaches them the basics to be either a firefighter or EMT.

“It has impacted our kids in more ways then just going to school, sitting in class and getting on the bus (to) go home,” chief instructor Lorne Hudson said.

Kids like Deshawn Harney and Sydney Lockett-Porter said the class has not only made school more exciting, but it’s giving them a head start on the next phase of their lives.

“It’s basically a family in here,” Lockett-Porter said.

The program is benefitting the Indianapolis Fire Department, too. IFD is looking for more diversity, on a force that right now is 80 percent white males. Only 1 percent of firefighters in the city are Hispanic and just 5 percent are women.

Lockett-Porter is hoping to be part of the change. She’s planning to join a program at Ivy Tech that offers dual credit for the class.

“I wake up in the morning … (and) I get excited (to) come to class,” Lockett-Porter said.

Arsenal Tech is the only school offering the program right now. Next year, it plans to accept 25 students into classes. Right now, those classes are already 70 percent full.