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Fire Academy 2022 Graduate Hired by Monroe Fire Department

     Less than 3 months after graduation, Andrew Bessinger achieved his goal of becoming a firefighter. In his senior year, Andrew began fire certification classes at Piedmont High School’s Fire Academy and passed all skills testing and certification testing offered in Fire Technology I, II, & III.   When he graduated on June 6, 2022, he only needed one more certification course, Fire Control, to become a certified North Carolina Firefighter. That course is not taught in any North Carolina Public School. During his last few weeks of high school, his teacher made him aware that the Monroe Fire Department had opened their hiring process. With encouragement from his Fire Academy teacher, Chad Baucom, Andrew completed his application and written test. He was offered the position at the Monroe Fire Department, and began his career as a firefighter on September 6, 2022 (only three months after graduating high school).  

     Andrew Bessinger started his love for the fire department around the age of three or four when his father came home with a toy fire truck. Ever since that time, he has wanted to be a firefighter.  The 2018-2019 school year was a big year for Andrew. In addition to it being his first year of high school, he joined the Monroe Fire Department’s Explorers Program, and the Unionville Volunteer Fire Department’s Junior Program. That same year, he took PHS’ Public Safety class (the first step to joining the Fire Academy).  Shortly after signing up for that class, he became a member of the after-school Public Safety Club (which was active for two years). His first year, he was the Training & Equipment Officer. And his second year, he was the Vice President. For the next two years (10th and 11th grade) he remained an active member of the Monroe Fire Department’s Explorers Program, and the Unionville Fire Department’s Junior Program. When Andrew turned 18 during his senior year, he became a full member of the Unionville Volunteer Fire Department.

     Recently, in June, Mr. Baucom chose Andrew (and four other students) to compete in the annual High School Firefighter Challenge hosted by OSFM. In this challenge, students from across North Carolina go to the Buncombe County Emergency Center to learn and train with each other in order to further their education and skills. Andrew and his classmates stayed there for a week, learning and participating in various types of training. All students were divided into two battalions for the duration of the challenge, and on the last day (graduation day) a winning battalion was named. Andrew was a part of the winning battalion, and all of those in that battalion were given brand new helmets as trophies. Andrew immensely enjoyed this incredible opportunity, and was honored to be a part of it. 

     UCPS Career & Technical Education (CTE) offers many opportunities for students to earn industry certifications to prepare them for their career pathways.  We are proud of our students who work hard and succeed in earning their certifications while in high school.

Andrew Bessinger