MONROE — South Piedmont Community College recently received a $170,549 short-term workforce training grant from the North Carolina Community College System to improve its fire and rescue training program.
The grant was made available through the North Carolina Community College System’s Office for Continuing Education programs, said Scott Rivers, dean of Career Development and Continuing Education at SPCC.
SPCC was notified by the system office in September about the availability of the grant.
“With the assistance of our grants coordinator, Ginger McLain, the college applied for the grant and was notified in early December that we would receive the award,” Rivers said.
“We have offered fire and rescue training in both counties for a number of years, and we will continue to do so,” he added. “Classes are offered both on campus and off campus in Anson and Union Counties, depending on the nature of the training, and the program offerings follow the prescribed training by Office of State Fire Marshall.”
SPCC, in conjunction with fire/rescue partners Monroe Fire Department and Union County, will use the funds to build a live-fire training structure and purchase needed equipment to enhance firefighter education and certification.
Rivers said that an example would be how they recently conducted a swift-water dive rescue class in Anson County, using a public swimming pool, the Pee Dee River, and other private ponds.
The students who participated in this certification program included local firefighters as well as those from departments outside of the service area.
“Most of the departments within the SPCC service area are staffed by volunteers who otherwise would have greater difficulty receiving the training mandated by OSFM,” Rivers said.
“As our program continues to grow, we are better equipped to not only offer the basic firefighter training but to offer more specialized programs such as rescuing victims from hybrid car collisions, victims involved in water accidents, just to name a few,” he added.
Thirty-six North Carolina community colleges submitted grant applications for the funds. The North Carolina State Board of Community Colleges approved an allocation of $2 million to invest in workforce training and provide an opportunity for the colleges to demonstrate the potential impact of these funds on short-term workforce training for the employers and residents of the state. The proposed programs will allow students to gain access to training leading to industry credentials aligned with employer demand and community needs across North Carolina.
“This means, for our fire and rescue program, that we have the opportunity to enhance an already strong program with additional equipment, training and certifications for our instructors and students,” Rivers said.