On a mild spring day, Cory Pippen suits up in firefighter’s gear outside Therrell High School as he prepares to climb Atlanta fire Truck 25.
No, he’s not putting out a fire or saving someone from a burning building, but with the help of the Atlanta Fire Department, he is one step closer to a dream he’s had since he was a child: being a firefighter. Pippen is one of 19 students enrolled in Essentials of Fire and Emergency Services, a class offered to Therrell High School students as part of AFD’s Delayed Entry program — a recruiting tool for the department currently short about 200 firefighters.
The high school course, which has been in the works since 2017, is being piloted at Therrell but will expand to all Atlanta public high schools in the 2020-2021 school year, Atlanta Public Schools spokesman Seth Coleman said. Through a combination of hands-on training and classroom instruction — taught by a former Atlanta fire captain — students learn the core values of being a firefighter and safety precautions.