Samantha Williams Getting Head Start with JTED Firefighter Program


Sam Williams in Uniform

Jocelyn Reeder, Reporter

Junior Samantha Williams already learning the skills she will need for her future career as a firefighter through Pima County’s JTED Fire Service program.  The program offers premier, tuition-free career and technical education to sophomores, juniors and seniors who are under 22 years of ages.  Samantha is gaining experience while learning about Fire Service roles and organization including history, culture, mission, career tracks, operating procedures, and community interaction.

Q: Do you like the program?

A: I do really like the program. The only difficult thing is being in the turnouts for a long period of time because they are super uncomfortable and really hot.

Q: Is it hard attending Sahuaro and JTED?

A: It’s not always hard but it can be frustrating juggling school work and homework for JTED.

Q: What inspired you to join JTED and become a firefighter?

A: As far as inspiration goes, I don’t know what made me want to do firefighting. Something in me just said go for it.

Q: Have you been always interested in becoming a firefighter?

A: I used to want to work at Disneyland actually. Not as a princess, that’s what everyone usually thinks, but I wanted to work the rides. But honestly I’ve only wanted to be a firefighter for about a year or so.

Q: What do you do outside of Sahuaro and JTED?

A: I don’t do much outside of school and JTED, I do family things and spend time with my two older sisters. Both takes up a lot of my life. I was on the swim team but I wasn’t able to juggle all of it and keep my grades up, I started failing math and wasn’t able to swim.

Q: What is your advice for other girls wanting to be a firefighter and maybe join JTED?

A: I would say go for it. Just because you’re a girl doesn’t mean you can’t do the manly thing. And JTED is an awesome opportunity. I’m excited to see where it’ll take me with all the experience I’m going to get.

Q: What are some fun facts about you?

A: I used to do synchronized swimming. I had to quit to join JTED though because it was on the same days at the same times. I like to read and I have a clown collection.

Q: Does it cost money to join the program?

A: There was a fee to join, I think a couple hundred dollars or one hundred. To be honest I don’t remember how much. There was also a uniform fee and I had to go buy my own pants, safety belt, and boots.

Q: Is there a certain age you have to be to join?

A: The  only requirement for the fire service class is that you be at least a junior. I’m a grade ahead, so I’m currently 15 but if I was in my regular grade I would be in 10th grade and wouldn’t be able to do the class. I am currently the youngest in the program.

Q: What are some of the things you do in the program?

A: On Mondays and Wednesdays we have about an hour of either guest speakers or assignment presentations that varies. Then we have a 15 minute snack and another hour and fifteen minutes of lecturing, where we follow in our books and write notes. At 6 we have PT until 7:15 which is our workout time. When we have our Saturday classes – they’re called skills days. They’re from 8 am to 4 pm and we do various things, starting with setting everything up and then doing a workout. After, we do skills such as rolling house for the fire engine being timed. We had to see how fast we could put the air tank on, learning new knots, hoisting equipment, and then we had lunch. After lunch, we split up and do more skills.

Q: What is one fun activity you did in the program?

A: The past two classes, we did a really fun black out drill.  During that time, we had to put on our turnouts but turn our hoods around so it covered our faces. We got with a partner and then my instructor turned off the lights. We had to stay with our partner meaning we could not let go of each other or we’d be considered a down fighter. My instructor would have to drag us away to have another team find us and bring us to “Safety.” In reality it would be the wall.

The program offers more than just becoming a firefighter. To join the program you would need to talk to your high school counselor. Your counselor can give you the list of programs that are available to you. If you have any more question email the or call and ask for JTED student services.