Two seniors at Two Harbors High School received firefighter certification last weekend.
Carson Wenger and Ty Rustad were among the Two Harbors Fire Department recruits who participated in a pilot program to revamp firefighter training in the area.
"Our goal was to try a different form of firefighter training that utilized more online training versus traditional lecture and put the hands-on training over two very long weekends," Fire Chief Mark Schlangen said. "In the past, firefighter training involved several nights a week of evening classes. We decided to try a new model to have a little more flexibility with the training."
The students completed coursework online via a program created and administered by the Central Lakes College Fire and EMS program. Students took two months of lectures and readings followed by two weekends of hands-on training at the THFD.
"It was pretty intense," Rustad said. "We got to do things like learn how to properly roll a hose and put out fires in the burn trailer. That was cool. They had these huge things of hay and pallets on fire and we could see how fire acts, how it can change due to conditions and material."
Putting out the fires was Wenger's favorite part of the program as well.
"The skill days were pretty much the greatest parts," Wenger said. "Between the auto extractions and the burns, I learned a lot."
Rustad noted he learned how much firefighting entailed.
"There is a lot more to it than putting out fires. Firefighters are on call for everything, from carbon monoxide warnings to car accidents and extractions," Rustad said. "As soon as I'm out of the Army, I'll keep going with firefighting."
Rustad said enrolling in the program was a "dream."
"I think every little kid wants to be a firefighter. It just never went away for me," Rustad said. "I'm pretty grateful for the opportunity and for all the help and support we received from Mr. Schlangen and everyone in the program."