Photo story: The dedication ceremony for West Salem High’s newest Career and Technical Education program, Public Safety.

Ted Farr, fire science teacher, speaks at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new fire tower and Public Safety (fire science and EMT) program on Oct. 27, 2015. Farr teaches part-time at West Salem High, but is also the assistant fire chief at the Colton Fire Department in Colton, Oregon and is an adjunct professor of fire science at Chemeketa Community College.
“Every 8-year- old wants to be a firefighter,” said Farr. However, the fire science program gives students the skills to turn childhood fantasies into practical life plans. Most of West’s fire science students plan on becoming firefighters after high school. Students who complete the fire science program will receive credit toward a certificate that will allow them to go directly into entry-level firefighting. While most of the skills necessary for the certificate are learned in the class, students seeking certification will have to finish the program at Chemeketa Community College.
The fire tower was built to serve the fire science elective, and allows students to simulate being in a building that has actually caught on fire.The building and groundwork cost $300,000. “This only happened because of eight or nine partners with the school district,” said West principal Ken Phillips. “It shows what happens when you have valued partnerships.”
Fire science students simulated a search-and-rescue mission with the fire tower. In this photo, they practice the skill of sending tools to a fellow firefighter on the roof. The equipment that the fire science class uses was donated by the Salem and Mount Angel Fire Departments and grants to pay for the remaining expenses came from the Department of Education. A smoke machine is used to create a haze within the building. The students wear full equipment while in the building and behave as if on a real search-and-rescue mission, frequently checking in with each other over radio.

School, district, state and Salem Fire Department representatives all spoke at the ceremony. Assorted officials and the Public Safety students are pictured. The assistant superintendent, Kelly Carlisle, among others, made speeches. “Every time I see [the tower], I think teamwork and problem-solving,” said Carlisle. That is what allowed the project to come to fruition.
Originally published in the West Side Newspaper