AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) — Richmond County High School Seniors who registered to take the firefighter written entrance exam, will finally have the chance to do so. The test was pushed back because of restrictions from the virus.
Before the pandemic, The Augusta Fire Department and The Richmond County School System reached an agreement to allow high school seniors to take a written exam to jumpstart the process of becoming a firefighter. The pandemic has caused some challenges for those eager students wanting to start a career in emergency services.
“We had about 150 students initially signed up for the assessment,” said Dr. Larina Thomas. “Now, we are down to about 90 students.”
It’s a new program that allows graduating Richmond County High School seniors to start early in a new profession. The coronavirus pandemic caused some students to opt-out of the program, but Chief Christopher James says that won’t stop the fire department’s hiring process.
“It’s no different than if our country was at war,” explained Chief James. “We don’t stop recruiting recruits; instead, we increase our recruiting.”
Dr. Larina Thomas is the coordinator for assessment and research. She believes not being face-to-face could be one reason why some of those students changed their minds.
“We got the go-ahead that we were going to continue with this process of testing,” said Dr. Thomas. “So then, we had to reach out via phone or email, and it could be that we couldn’t get through with the individual.”
The first phase of the test was supposed to be given at the student’s designated high school. Now, the Julian Smith Casino will be the central location for the exam.
“Being at Julian Smith Casino because of COVID-19 and safety precautions, they opened up two sessions,” explained Dr. Thomas.
Dr. Thomas says the school district will reach out to those students again before the test date.
“We’re still hiring, we are still training, and we are still doing it carefully to make sure the employees are safe,” said Chief James. “However, we still have to move forward because those positions are essential in providing the citizens with the service they deserve.”
That test is scheduled for June 4th. Any Richmond County High School senior interested in taking the exam should reach out to their school counselor.