WEST CHESTER (February 14, 2018) – State Senator Andy Dinniman recently secured $50,000 in state grant funding for the Octorara Area Homeland Security and Protective Services Academy.

The funds, which come through the Pennsylvania Department of Education, will go to acquiring specialty equipment and professional gear used in training students for careers in emergency response.

Dinniman who serves as both Minority Chair of the Senate Education Committee and on the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, praised the Octorara program for offering students unique opportunities to gain professional experience in a variety of careers in public safety.

Senator Dinniman (right) meets with students from for the Octorara Area Homeland Security and Protective Services Academy. Pictured to the left is Lisa McNamara, Program Administrator for the Octorara Area School District.

“Octorara has developed an innovative and groundbreaking program for students interested in getting a jump-start on careers in firefighting, emergency response, and law enforcement,” Dinniman said. “The academy should serve as a model of what schools can do in giving young people the opportunity to get hands-on experience and daily interaction with emergency response pros.”

The Octorara Area Homeland Security and Protective Services Academy is a three-year Career and Technical Education Program offered to students in tenth, eleventh, and twelfth grade. The academy has partnered with the Chester County Public Safety Training Campus (CCPSTC) to offer a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for students interested in careers in firefighting, law enforcement, and emergency medical services.  

The academy consists of two half-day programs at the CCPSTC and student academic instruction at their sending district’s high school.  

It is housed at the CCPSTC to provide students with the latest technology and equipment available while offering them the opportunity to interact with firefighters, law enforcement and emergency management professionals on a daily basis. 

Cadets in the academy also join their local fire department or emergency service department upon entering the program. 

“This program is invaluable in inspiring students to careers in the emergency services or public safety, while also helping rejuvenate interest in our volunteer fire departments, which have seen their numbers dwindle in recent years,” Dinniman said. “In fact, currently the program is the only way young people under the age of 18 can become certified firefighters in the Commonwealth. That way, once they turn 18 they are ready to go.”

Students who complete three years of the Octorara Area Homeland Security and Protective Services Academy program can earn up to 60 State and National Certifications as well as up to 54 college credits. Internships and co-op work opportunities are available for select students. 

Dinniman also noted that the Pennsylvania Senate recently unanimously passed legislation to create a pilot program in which community colleges would create partnerships with secondary schools to provide high school students with firefighter training classes.

Senate Bill 955, of which Dinniman is a co-sponsor, now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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