Goshen Fire Department partners with Ivy Tech to educate new era of firefighters

NOW: Goshen Fire Department partners with Ivy Tech to educate new era of firefighters

GOSHEN, Ind.—The first generation of firefighters to be fully trained and certified in the city of Goshen are graduating on July 30.

Throughout the past six months, Goshen Fire Department has run a class called Firefighter 1 & 2, sponsored by the Indiana Department of Homeland Security – District 2. Class time was split between Goshen's fire training center and Ivy Tech's Elkhart campus.

Twenty-eight firefighters from 10 area fire departments took the class and will be honored in the Tuesday evening ceremony at the Ivy Tech – Elkhart campus.

One of those firefighters, Jason Rybinski is a volunteer firefighter in Elkhart Township.

“It’s been a lifelong goal of mine, ever since I left high school, however my parents insisted that I go to school, college, so once I went to college, I became a teacher so now I’m working as a full time teacher,” Rybinski said.

Rybinski teaches sixth grade Pinewood Elementary in Elkhart, but just over two years ago, began the process of fulfilling that lifelong dream of fighting fires and keeping the community safe.

“These courses specifically gave me the ability to look at fire scenes in a different way, to look at fire behavior, to be able to attack fire in a way that’s unknown to others, other than putting water on it, to handle multiple incidences such as entrapment in vehicles,” Rybinski said.

Rybinski says the course gave him the certification he needed to fight interior fires as a volunteer firefighter.

All entry-level students who took the Firefighter 1 & 2 course will receive State of Indiana certifications in multiple areas.

At the graduation ceremony, a new partnership between Goshen Fire Department and Ivy Tech will be unveiled and is set to officially roll out in the fall.

The partnership will allow students to now receive college credit for completing the firefighter course, in addition to receiving state certifications.

“We just saw the need and we were able to fit that need by offering college credits to these professional firefighters,” Jon Whitmar, department chair at Ivy Tech – Elkhart said. “I have had students drive from South Bend to Indianapolis just for this class so to have the opportunity for them to have this class in their backdoor, that’s a great thing to have.”

Whitmar says that increasingly, firefighters are being required to have college education under their belts before suiting up. 

New students at Ivy Tech – Elkhart can register for the Firefighter 1 & 2 course by following the regular admission process at the school.

The Ivy Tech – Elkhart is the second Ivy Tech campus in Indiana to offer the opportunity, with the first being Indianapolis.

Rybinski wants future local firefighters to take advantage of the opportunity so close to home.

“Study, make sure you know the material, not just the skills, but know the book material as well because the two go hand in hand, put 110% effort into it, and make sure you prove to them that you can do the job because they’re the ones that may be backing you up one day and they want to know they’re in good hands,” Rybinski said.

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