Image of firefighter.

Recruits ignite their careers with hands-on training

Riley Egan had prepared for weeks for what his Fire Academy instructors called the “live burn” at the Contra Costa County Fire Training Center. He checked his gear and stood at the ready. Once the instructor ignited the gasoline prop pan, Egan swiftly moved in and attacked the blaze, dousing it with a burst from his fire extinguisher.

Egan is one of about 30 recruits training this spring in Los Medanos College Fire Academy, the hands-on course where students put into practice the principles they learned in the pre-requisite classes – Fire 101 and 102, and the Fire 106 physical
agility test.

Egan, who had been working in retail since 2017, at age 29 had a revelation.

“I had a sit-down with a co-worker and suddenly thought, ‘why am I limiting myself?’” he said. “I grew up in the Boy Scouts and always thought being a firefighter was a great job. So, I looked around, and found LMC was the closest place I could train. I took the Fire 101 class and was immediately hooked. It’s not just the training, but now I got to know these guys. There’s a real camaraderie. Any one of them would follow me into a burning building and I’d trust them with my life.”

Image of Dominic Reyes, Fire Academy coordinator.

Dominic Reyes, Fire Academy coordinator

LMC Fire Academy coordinator Dominic Reyes said students who train at LMC have numerous advantages for landing a job when they graduate. Much of their training takes place at the Contra Costa County training center in Concord, which includes a five-story drill tower, five fire engines, a wildland engine, and ample space for live fire training. It is the same center professional firefighters across the county use to train.

“The biggest advantage, though, is learning from our experienced cadre (instructional staff),” said Reyes, who graduated the LMC academy in 2010. “They all work in professional fire departments – from Berkeley Fire, San Francisco Fire, Alameda Fire, and Contra Costa County. The students we graduate do make it to that end goal. Then we see it go full circle and they come back to teach.”

Image of Dave Haynes, Fire Academy instructor.

Dave Haynes, Fire Academy instructor

Dave Haynes, Jr., is among the working firefighter-instructors. Haynes, an LMC alumnus ’17, credits the program for preparing him to succeed in his job with Contra Costa County Fire. He graduated from El Cerrito High School, attended Diablo Valley College initially exploring the field of criminal justice, turned to Contra Costa College for EMT training and continued his exploration at LMC, where it all came together.

“Having the foundational skills and knowledge from the LMC college academy prior to stepping into the paid fire department helped me more than anything,” Haynes said. “I was already familiar with their way of doing things, with the equipment they use – I was ready.”

Lon Goetsch, assistant fire chief with the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District, said the partnership with LMC serves the community well, providing a well-trained pool of recruits at a time many local fire departments are seeking to fill vacant positions.

“Since COVID, the number of qualified, available recruits has been going down,” Goetsch said. “There’s incredible demand for firefighters, EMTs and paramedics. These are exciting jobs with wages and benefits that are very attractive.”

Ignite your career today. Visit or contact Mike Grillo, [email protected], (925)-473-7750.

Fire Technology
Certificate of achievement: Requires fire technology courses with a cumulative grade point average of 2.0 or higher.

Associate in Science Degree: Requires 26 units of fire technology courses plus college associate degree requirements, including EMT training.