CANYON, TX (KFDA) - Texas volunteer firefighters now have the opportunity to get some or possibly all of their college tuition waived.
This has been an option for paid firefighters for several years now, but is now being offered to volunteers.
Any volunteer firefighters wanting to enhance their skills in emergency management and fire service now have the chance to do so free of charge at West Texas A&M or Amarillo College.
That includes almost all the classes in WT and AC's fire and EMS programs.
"If they are considered a student of Emergency Management Administration or Public Administration, then every class is covered, including required and elective [classes]," said Dr. Dale Li, Assistant Professor at WT and coordinator of the Emergency Management Administration program.
Most of the firefighters in the panhandle are volunteers, and the Canyon Volunteer Fire Department said this new program will do wonders for our area first responders.
"It's going to help develop them and make them better at what they do here, and then that's going to allow us to go out and give a better product to our customers, which are the citizens," said Capt. John Woodward.
He also believes the waivers may make more people interested in becoming volunteer firefighters.
"It helps give a little back to those folks that are going out and doing this free of charge and on their own time," said Woodward. "And it helps kind of give them a little incentive to come join us."
Between AC and WT, around 60 students have applied for the exemption this semester.
"We do have a few who have enrolled and a whole lot that wish they could have whenever they were going to school," said Woodward.
To be granted the waiver, students have to have to meet requirements like permission from their fire chief, good grades, experience as a volunteer firefighter and a willingness to become better at what they do.
Directors at both colleges expect more firefighters to enroll as the program becomes more well known.
"I really appreciate their service and they help me grow, so I want to help them as well," said Li.
Currently enrolled WT students have until the 12th class day to apply for the waiver for this fall semester.