As it has for years, the Mesa Fire Department invested Thursday in the training of fire science students at the East Valley Institute of Technology by donating an item the school could not otherwise afford: a 1997 Pierce Quantum 4-door cab fire truck.
During a donation event on campus, Mesa City Councilman Dennis Kavanaugh said there will be a return on investment many times over.
“When I travel around the country, people point to Mesa as a leader in fire and public safety,”Kavanaugh said, adding that the ideas and spirit of entrepreneurship that make Mesa Fire a leader are part of EVIT’s philosophy as well.
“And that’s why you will be successes,” Kavanaugh said, pointing to the fire science students who attended the event.
Fire science technology instructor Terry Baughersaid EVIT appreciates the Mesa Fire Department’s continued support. He said the students will get a lot of pride and experience out of the truck donated Thursday.
“Mesa Fire Department has come through for us from the beginning,” he said.
On behalf of the students, seniors Jasmine Beals and Guess Huffman thanked the fire department for the 470 HP Detroit Diesel truck that includes a fire pump, 500 gallon water tank, 20 gallon foam tank, booster reel and deluge gun, among other features.
Beals said it will “advance my learning … It’s really amazing. I can’t even put it into words. This program has done so much for my future.”
Huffman added: “Being a girl in this class, people think it’s hard, but it’s fun. EVIT is the best decision I made.”
Assistant Mesa Fire Chief Jim Bloomer said that close to 400 EVIT fire science students have gone on to careers in fire services.
“You guys really do have an impact,” he said.
EVIT Superintendent Sally Downey asked the fire science students who assembled for the event how many were planning to work one day in fire services – and nearly all of them raised their hands. Then she asked how many are also going to college – and again, most raised their hands.
Campus-wide, 64 percent of EVIT students go on to college.
“When business and industry, community and education work together, the sky’s the limit,” Downey said. “Today is the perfect example of that.”
Students in EVIT’s law enforcement color guard also took part in Thursday’s event by leading the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance.
EVIT has been recognized nationally as a premier career and technical high school. For more information about EVIT’s fire science program, visit www.evit.com/firefighting online or call (480) 461-4034.
CeCe Todd is a public information officer for the East Valley Institute of Technology and former professional journalist covering education issues in Arizona.