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City and CPS to create fire academy at Western Hills High School

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Council Member Yvette Simpson (center) is making a point during a press conference announcing the partnership with the City of Cincinnati, Cincinnati Public Schools with the Cincinnati Africa American Firefighters Association (CAFA) to establish a Fire Academy at Western Hills University High School on Friday, May 25. Participating in the press conference included (left to right) Laura Mitchell, incoming CPS Superintendent, Raffel Prophet, president of CAFA, Ken Jump, principal of Western Hills High School, and Ericka Copeland-Dansby, president of CPS Board of Education. Photo provided

The City of Cincinnati and Cincinnati Public Schools announced a partnership to establish a Fire Academy at Western Hills University High School through its My Tomorrow initiative. Under the My Tomorrow initiative, Western Hills prepares students for careers through its Law & Public Safety Career Pathway Program, which will include the Fire Academy.

Once established, the Fire Academy pilot program will help improve opportunities for low-income African Americans, Appalachians and other underserved communities to compete for an appointment to the Cincinnati Fire Department. The pilot program is part of Cincinnati African-American Firefighters Association’s (CAFA) goal to help diversify the City’s fire department.

The Fire Academy Pilot Program will provide Western Hills High School students an opportunity to train to meet the National Fire Protection Association Firefighter 1 and Firefighter 2 requirements; obtain a CPR certification; obtain EMS Certification; prepare to pass the Firefighter Examinations; intern with or shadow a CFD employee, and be assigned a CFD professional mentor.   Council Member Yvette Simpson announced the partnership with CPS Board President Ericka Copeland Dansby, Laura Mitchell, Incoming CPS Superintendent, Ken Jump, principal of Western Hills University High School and Raffel Prophett, president of CAFA. Simpson will also be helping to create the pilot program.

Simpson’s participation in the program is a continuation of her commitment to safety and workforce initiatives – Violence Prevention, Psych Trauma Teams, Youth-To-Work and Employment Pipeline Pilot Program (EP3) – that she has launched during her City Council career. Simpson turned the Youth-To-Work program over to the city administration last year, and the Cincinnati Recreation Commission is operating the program. The one-year EP3 program will be presenting its results soon before the Human Services, Youth & Arts Committee.

“The goal of this pilot program is to empower and prepare our young people for the future,” Simpson said. “We want to make sure this pilot program provides the youth with excellent training enabling them to experience the pride that comes with learning new skill sets.”

Over the next few years the Cincinnati Fire Department will have several career firefighters retire. The latest CFD recruit class will graduate on Wednesday, June 7, and add 41 new people to the City’s firefighter staff. The new initiative will help CFD find qualified applicants.

Raffel Prophett, president of CAFA, noted in the press conference that the number of minority firefighters within CFD is lower than he likes. He said the Fire Academy will help CFD’s recruitment of new firefighters.

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