HOXIE, AR (KAIT) – Hoxie Fire Department has started a scholarship program to help future firefighters pay for college.
Students spend a year as an intern and in return their expenses are reimbursed.
"We pay for tuition and books," said Assistant Chief Will Tate. "Not only do they graduate from school with the book knowledge but a year experience as a firefighter in the real world."
Not only are both benefiting from the program it's also helping the community.
"Our response times have gone down and we've actually been more aggressive on finding structured fires and medical calls," said Tate. "We're able to save more lives and property."
With students on duty, the fire department has extra help at all times.
"We have someone one here 24 hours a day seven days a week 365 days a year," said Tate.
That's something Assistant Chief Will Tate said will help lower their ISO rating.
"It will we're looking to get reevaluated in the next 8 to 10 months," said Tate.
The new scholarship program has really sparked up the interest of many in the area.
"We've actually had several applications here lately with an increased interest in it," said Tate.
To help accommodate, the fire department does whatever they can to help out their students.
"Currently, I have two students who live in highland and one that lives in valley view and they go to Black River Technical College Fire Training Center," said Tate. "They can stay here during the week instead of spending gas money," said Tate.
Right now the program is funded solely through volunteers, but the fire department is hoping to reach out to the community with fund raisers to help expand their program in the future.
"The more fund raising we can do and show the community and the community show support to us, then we're able to expand the program and provide better services," said Tate.
The Hoxie Fire Department will hold their first fund raiser July 13th. If you are interesting in applying for the program please call (870) 886-5722.