State awards $22,000 grant to Onalaska Fire Academy to recruit, retain young firefighters

ONALASKA, Wis. (WKBT) — Local firefighters are counting on a new grant to recruit new people to join their ranks.

The state of Wisconsin awarded Western Technical College’s Onalaska Fire Academy with $22,000. The money will be used for the program that is designed to recruit and retain firefighters.

The program has one year under its belt. One graduate of the program, Luke LeClaire, said it helped him find his way.

“Before I took the class I didn’t really know what I wanted to do or what I wanted as a career, and I heard about this class from a guidance counselor at my school. I’m very glad I took the class, because I’m wanting to be a firefighter when I’m older. So I’m very excited for that,” LeClaire said.

Two students from the program are registered to continue their education in Western’s fire protection program.

Another four plan to work part-time for their local fire departments.

This grant money will help keep the program going.

Fourteen high school seniors are signed up for next year.

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