Sierra Vista Fire & Medical Services and Cochise College are teaming up to promote local EMTs to firefighters.

The accelerated program means longer days at their future firehouse, but to the recruits it’s worth it.

Eight new recruits are training at the firehouse as part of an accelerated program to join the Sierra Vista Fire & Medical Services Team. Deputy Chief Brad Dever said he reached out to the college to see if a shorter fire sciences program would be possible after noticing a lot of EMTs applying for their open firefighter positions.

This is unique for us here in Sierra Vista because were a bit of a smaller organization, in comparison to Tucson Fire or Phoenix Fire, but were able to because we have Cochise College here as a partner. We are able to accomplish this together, Dever said.

Eric Brooks, Dean of Liberal Arts & Police Academy at Cochise College, said he worked with the department to shrink the 24-week program to eight. He said this is now something the college can offer on an as-needed basis, and sees the next accelerated program being opened up to other agencies.

The City of Sierra Vista is sponsoring these recruits to go through the program through the fire department. The academy started this week and ends on Dec. 14.

We havent historically had recruitment issues in fire service,” Dever said. “Typically, we used to have a high number of applicants. Departments across the nation are struggling to fill those positions.

Michael Tenney is one of the EMTs working on becoming a firefighter. He said he was interested in starting a new career after retiring from the military.

When I exited the military in 2021, I did various jobs; some construction, plumbing, things like that, and it wasnt the same fulfillment that I got, Tenney said.

He said he likes that he’ll be able to save lives as a firefighter, like when he was in the military. For Tenney, this opportunity is a homecoming that allows him to serve the community he grew up in.

This is where I was born and raised,” Tenney said. “I was away for 10 years in the military. I had the opportunity to get back here. This is my hometown and the community I want to serve and help.

Current captains and staff from the Sierra Vista Fire & Medical Services team are teaching the classes on their off days.

Brooks said one of the challenges of having an accelerated program is having enough instructors to teach, which is where team members like Captain Shawn Mott come into play. The recruits are being trained by their future co-workers who are teaching on their off days to help.

Its a great way to bring up the new generation of guys,” Mott said. “We have to teach them a lot and bring them on and they have so much to learn. Theyre just learning the tip of an iceberg right now.