Westbrook Regional Vocational Center program prepares future generation of firefighters

(Westbrook Regional Vocational Center)

WESTBROOK (WGME) -- A program at Westbrook Regional Vocational Center is preparing a future generation of firefighters.

The student tie knots, work on fire hoses, learn how to use a sledgehammer, put on equipment, and even put out fires.

"It's very intense. There's a lot of hands on work,” Dave Roubo said.

But that's not all in the five day a week class.

"We'll teach them fire behavior, building construction, the proper use of ladders, tools, everything they need to know to hit the ground running,” Lt. John Brooks said.

After completing the nine-month firefighting class at the Westbrook Regional Vocational Center, students are expected to be competent in more than 1,000 skills.

"We're teaching them a career actually,” Brooks said.

That's exactly what happened to T.J. Dorn.

The junior had no idea what he wanted to do in the future until he decided to take the course.

"I ended up falling in love with it. Every morning I look forward to coming here and it just makes school easier for me to do,” Dorn said.

For Dorn that means less time in a book.

"If I just looked at those pictures, I’d be like, how am I supposed to know? So, to be able to do it hands on is just way easier. just got to do it to learn it,” Dorn said.

And as the students learn the skills, it prepares them to take a test to one day get their license and work at a real fire department.

"The course that they are taking is the standards set forth by the Maine Fire Services Institute. So, they are learning the same skills that every other firefighter in the state of Maine is learning,” Roubo said.

Roubo has been teaching the firefighting class for years.

He says around 75 percent of the students who finish the class end up working in some kind of public service.

That's something he takes great pride in.

"Nothing makes my heart swell up more than after 14 years to see red lights behind me while I’m on my way home and look up and in the big red truck or ambulance and see a student that actually came through my program,” Roubo said.

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