Battalion Chief Larson speaks with Woodrow Wilson High School sophmores enrolled in the Firefighter/EMS Magnet Program during their March 28, 2019 annual inspection.
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When Battalion Chief Kristine Larson assumed command of the LAFD’s Firefighter Recruitment Section this spring, little did she know how life-changing the Firefighter/EMS Magnet Program is for youth in Los Angeles.
“It’s hard to quantify how important this academy is based solely on numbers,” Larson said. “You see improved grades but you also see newfound self-confidence in students who overall want to be better citizens.”
The Firefighter/EMS Magnet Program, one of four LAFD youth programs, provides high school students at L.A. campuses a chance to learn about a career with the fire service. This is accomplished through fire stations visits, classroom lessons and team-building activities that teach the importance of self-worth and camaraderie. A formal inspection at the end of each school year provides students a chance to show their pride in the FEMS Program.
This year’s inspection at Woodrow Wilson High School is one that Chief Larson will not soon forget.
“A mother approached us, with tears in her eyes, and thanked us for the program,” Larson said. “She pointed out her son and told me how this program changed his outlook on life.”
The young man’s mother explained how he had been struggling at home and school. That changed after he joined FEMS. He received encouragement from the staff and his fellow students that gave him the confidence to bring his grades up. That confidence was further showcased when his classmates selected him to lead their grade’s chant at the conclusion of the inspection.
“This program does more than provide students a chance to prepare for a career in the fire department,” Larson said. “It provides them an opportunity to discover their own self-worth. That is priceless.”