Story & photos by STEPHEN MOORE
Pima Community College’s Public Safety and Emergency Services Institute will benefit from a $1.5 million grant awarded to the Tucson Fire Department in September.
The grant allows 24 Tucson firefighters to attend the paramedic program at PSESI, according to Deputy Chief Mike Garcia.
The cost, which is about $62,500 per student, is high because students receive their normal fire department pay and their positions must be backfilled. That means the firefighting duties of the students must be performed by other firefighters receiving overtime pay, Garcia said.
PSESI’s course for the firefighters will start Oct. 30. Students who successfully complete the course will graduate on May 1, according to PSESI Program Director Sharon Hollingsworth.
Tucson Fire applied for the grant, awarded by FEMA, last October. The award was based on different criteria. Need was a big factor, according to Garcia.
Funding for the last group, consisting of about a dozen Tucson firefighters who graduated in November 2015, came from the department’s general fund budget.
“Opportunities like this do not come around often,” Chris Roylance said, one of the 47 firefighters applying for the program.
Roylance, who completed the emergency medical technician program at PSESI in 2009, applied for the paramedic program at the end of September. He said he had an interview with Hollinsworth on Oct. 16 and anticipates learning his fate soon.