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The original item was published from 5/11/2023 12:01:00 PM to 5/11/2023 12:01:55 PM.

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Posted on: April 14, 2023

[ARCHIVED] Great Education Moments for Students (GEMS) Award

Fire Department Coin

The City of Key West wants to thank the Monroe County School Board for recognizing two members of our Fire Department for the work they've done overseeing the Key West High School Fire Academy. 

Division Chief of Fire Prevention Jason Barroso and Division Chief of Emergency Management Gregory Barroso were each honored with the GEMS– Great Education Moments for Students – Award.

The Key West Fire Academy originally began as an explorer program about 15 years ago, then developed into a full 2-year academy 10 years ago.  This CTE program establishes a strong foundation. The two-year fire academy trains future firefighters while they’re attending their final two years of high school and provides them, upon completion, the equivalent training of a Certified Firefighter I, which puts them halfway through the training required to become a Key West Firefighter.  The students also earn certifications in Emergency Medical Responder and Hazmat Awareness during the training.

During the past decade, some 150 students have finished the program.  Thirteen of them have gone on to finish full certification and join the Key West Fire Department.  In fact, Deputy Chief Eddie Perez started with the Key West High School Explorer program.  Many graduates of the academy have joined the military or a police force, as well as other fire departments.

The academy is a team effort between the school and the department. The men and women of the Key West Fire Department work hard to provide optimal training.  Investing in local students is a win/win for the students who establish a strong vocation and for the fire department, which has the opportunity to hire young people who are already a part of the community.

The Monroe County School District has supported the program all along. In fact, the success of the Key West program moved the district to establish a fire academy program in Marathon, modeled on the Key West program.

GEMS award

In the photo from L to R: Division Chief Jason Barroso, Division Chief Gregory Barroso, School Superintendent Theresa Axford, and School Board Chairman Andy Griffiths.

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