New partnership benefits EVIT fire students, Arizona's rural communities

New partnership benefits EVIT fire students, Arizona's rural communities
Posted on 08/16/2023
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A new partnership between the East Valley Institute of Technology and Superstition Fire & Medical District will improve how prepared EVIT students are for fire and emergency services careers while helping Arizona’s smaller, rural communities attract the firefighters they need.

After completing EVIT’s Fire and Emergency Services program, students who want to pursue careers in large urban communities in Arizona usually attend fire academies hosted by cities such as Phoenix, Mesa, and Tucson. But smaller communities often don’t have the resources for an academy and find it difficult to hire and train qualified applicants. Superstition Fire & Medical District’s sponsorship of the EVIT program will give students the opportunity to earn state-recognized Fire I and Fire II credentials, which will allow them to apply to work as firefighters in smaller communities that do not have academies.

“This partnership is an example of EVIT’s mission to serve our communities,” said Chief Academic Officer Dr. Ronda Doolen. “In this case, our community is the state of Arizona. Our smaller community neighbors need firefighters and emergency personnel and with the support of the Superstition district, EVIT fire students will be prepared to serve those communities.”

EVIT’s partnership with Superstition doesn’t prevent EVIT students from pursuing a career in larger, more urban, fire departments, but, “The partnership with the Superstition district gives students more options if they want to start working right away after completing their EVIT program,” Doolen said.

The partnership will include collaboration between EVIT staff and members of the Superstition district, content expertise and knowledge by the fire district, job shadowing opportunities for EVIT students, fire district personnel supporting EVIT training and skill development, and the ability for both institutions to provide a viable workforce to communities across the state.

"Although SFMD firefighters attend post-hire Regional Fire Academies as part of our valley-wide automatic aid agreement, we felt this was an incredible opportunity to provide educational connectivity, focused access to potential candidates, and assistance to our Arizona fire service partners across the state as we all face unprecedented recruitment challenges,” said Superstition district Chief John Whitney. “Providing this sponsorship enables EVIT to produce state-certified firefighters for agencies that need personnel immediately. It also provides a high level of education and exposure for the students to experience the fire service. With the support of our Governing Board of Directors, we truly appreciate the opportunity to partner with EVIT. We are excited to participate in the program's future development.” 

About 180 students are currently enrolled in the EVIT Fire and Emergency Services program. In addition to the new Fire I and Fire II credentials, EVIT students can earn certifications in CPR, National Emergency Medical Technician, Wildland Fire Fighter Certificate, and more.

“Giving our students more opportunities to be successful while also helping our neighbors in need is what EVIT is all about,” Doolen said. “We are using our taxpayer-funded resources to bring about positive change in the lives of our students and our community.”

EVIT offers tuition-free career training for East Valley high school students and tuition-based programs for Phoenix-area adults at two central campuses in Mesa and a branch campus at Apache Junction High School. For more information, visit: