Firefighter Career Pathway Available to Luxemburg-Casco High School Students

Posted on 5-14-2024

(Photo Credit: Luxemburg-Casco School District)

A new educational pathway – designed for students interested in a career as a firefighter – is wrapping up its first year at Luxemburg-Casco High School. Three L-C students (Left-to-Right: Matthew Zellner, Jacob Blasier, and Jett Granese-Bries) took part during the 2023-24 school year, and more are expected to join the program in the fall.

The Kewaunee County Junior Firefighter Program – a partnership between the Luxemburg-Casco, Algoma, Denmark and Kewaunee school districts, along with eight area fire departments – began with an exploratory session for students in April 2023.

“We see this program as a great way for students to explore a potential career in firefighting while gaining post-secondary credits and real-world experience,” said Mike Snowberry, director of learning services for the Luxemburg-Casco School District. “We have received tremendous support from area fire departments, who are all-in to work with our students.”

Three Luxemburg-Casco students this year began coursework towards Firefighter 1 certification through Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC) during the first-hour block of their day. Taught by NWTC instructors, students earn both high school and college credits while learning the basics of firefighting.

Mathew Zellner, who is one of the three L-C students currently following the firefighter career pathway, completed the course requirements for Firefighter 1 Certification earlier this month. He took Entry Level Fighter the first three months of 2024, followed by Hazardous Material Operations and Firefighter 1.  Zellner now is a Junior Firefighter with the Luxemburg Community Fire Department. A volunteer position, he receives hands-on opportunities to learn the skills used in firefighting, actively participates in department trainings and meetings, and when the tone goes off Zellner responds to calls.

“It has been a lot of learning for me,” said Zellner. “I get to respond to calls in full gear, and can help out on the scene. But, being under 18 (years old), I am restricted in what I can do.”

Junior Firefighters are expected to respond to emergency calls and operate under the supervision of Senior Firefighters. Strict laws exist to protect minors from the most hazardous dangers; for example, Junior Firefighters will never enter a burning building or operate on top of a roof. The work performed by Junior Firefighters frees up qualified Senior Firefighters to execute other crucial tasks.  Junior Firefighters must be at least 16 years old, but not older than 19 years old. They must be able to follow directions under stressful conditions, and should be in good physical condition to perform essential fire ground tasks.

“The Junior Firefighter Program is working very well,” says Lew Du Chateau, Luxemburg Fire Chief since 2001. “The students are helping out where we need them. It’s been a win-win for the students and for us. I can tell you, locally and statewide, volunteer fire departments are becoming shorthanded as far as required and needed firefighters. It gives the students the opportunity to be servants to their communities, along with exploring a potential career. They are trained as a firefighter, which is something they can use in any community in the years ahead.”

Participating students are supported by the fire department with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and uniforms.  The Kewaunee County Junior Firefighter Program – which supports the fire departments of Algoma, Carlton, Casco, Denmark, Kewaunee, Luxemburg, New Franken and Tisch Mills – was one of four grant winners of the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS). The grant of $24,525 will be utilized to purchase full PPE for use by students.