Cadets: History of Program
The Clark County Fire Cadet program was established in 1991. The Department worked with the Clark County Vocational Skills Center and Battle Ground School District to establish a program that would provide an opportunity for high school students to study fire science and emergency medicine from professional firefighters and paramedics. Key personnel involved in the formation of the program were: Fire Chief Dennis Mason, Fire Commissioner Dr. William Hansen, Cheryl Mayo-the Director of Vocational Education for the Battle Ground School District, and Lt. Todd Kays - the program's first instructor.
The first year started with 14 juniors and seniors that walked across the street from Battle Ground High School to the downtown Battle Ground fire station to try this new and innovative training program. Out of the first 14 students, four obtained career firefighting positions and two other students found careers in the EMS field. Each subsequent year the program grew in popularity and expanded to other high schools. By 1997, the program was so successful that students were being turned away. That same year, Fire Districts No. 1 (Washougal) and No. 6 (Hazel Dell) joined with Clark County Fire District 11, now Clark County Fire & Rescue, and began hosting cadets at their main stations. In 2003 the Vancouver Fire Department joined and was followed in 2004 by Fire District No. 3 (Hockinson). The program has grown from 14 students to nearly 150 students from every high school in Clark County.
The program has been so successful that many other departments across the nation have established similar programs based on this successful model. The program has received numerous awards and honors throughout its history. However, the instructors are most proud of the positive impact that the program has had on the hundreds of young men and women who have completed the program.