Omaha students gain real-world firefighting experience through one-of-a-kind MCC internship

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) – A new program in Omaha is helping future firefighters gain more hands-on experience after graduation.

“In every class you learn a lot of, you know, book knowledge, but here you really apply it,” says Michael Molacek, a Metropolitan Community College student studying fire science.

Molacek is one of about a dozen participating in a new internship created by MCC’s firefighter science program in partnership with Bennington Fire & Rescue.

“We are the only school and fire district that has an internship program like this. They work here alongside an active fire department and a 24-hour crew,” says Jeff Strawn, director of MCC’s fire science program. .

Several times a month, students will spend an entire shift at Bennington, learning from staff and volunteers. Strawn says many MCC students don’t get the chance to be a volunteer firefighter, but the internship helps them gain the real-world experience they need for their careers.

They come here in the morning, they eat here, they sleep here, they make emergency calls, they train, so it’s an opportunity, if you will, to just be an active firefighter and active fire crews. Straun says. “Anytime you can get out of the classroom and study theory and actually put it into practice here at the fire department, I think those are things you couldn’t get anywhere else.”

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“It was great to pick up those skills from the chapters you read, or just have a chapter or two on certain topics, so it was great to have that work experience and say, ‘Oh, I remember reading about that’ or I remember there was a skills day about that.” Molacek adds.

Students are given a skills booklet with assignments and tasks to complete each shift with the fire department.

“I get to come here and test different things and skills with the other firefighters, show that I have knowledge in these areas, so when we go out on a live call I can be a valuable asset to the team.” “, – says Molacek.

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However, the program is not only valuable for students. As part of a growing community, Bennington Fire and Rescue has seen an increasing number of calls.

“It’s good for us to have extra hands,” says Bennington manager Dan Mallory.

in 2021 At the end of last year, Bennington went from an all-volunteer department to a combined department, which means they have 12 full-time firefighters, but they still rely heavily on their volunteers.

Mallory says MCC interns help them do more.

“For calls where we need one more person to help carry equipment, supplies, or in case of a fire, we need ladders dropped by windows, hoses connected to fire hydrants, things like that, I can send my career fire crew inside.” , as well as my volunteers, but I still have a Metro intern who does a lot of those outside jobs when I’m not attached to the senior firefighter.

Mallory says working with MKC was a no-brainer, and the current staff is just as eager as they were when they started.

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“Most of us came out of university with a degree in firefighting or something, but we didn’t have the experience, which gives them a chance to see what’s really out there and see if it’s something they really want.” to do.”

Strawn says internships like this are common on the coasts, so bringing her to the metro made sense.

“The 100% response was, ‘It was amazing,’ it’s something you can see the students really light up, they get excited, they look forward to coming to work, they’re excited about this opportunity where they wouldn’t be anywhere else.” but where did I get it,” he says.

“I apply for firefighter positions all over the US and that was definitely one thing that kept me in the metro area because I knew it would be a great opportunity to gain experience, first-hand knowledge and skills training on the job. that I don’t think I could just move to another city,” says Molacek.


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