Bunker Program Focuses on College Students

By Captain Michael Koch, Fishers Fire Department

The Fishers Fire Department has proudly finished the fourth successful year of its college bunker program and is currently accepting applications for the fall 2019 program. The department’s bunker program hosts college students from New York State who are attending local Rochester area colleges or universities and are volunteer members of departments in their hometown.

The progressive combination career and volunteer department is located in a rapidly developing district in the northwest portion of Ontario County. The department covers approximately 26 square miles in the Town of Victor and portions   of the New York State Thruway and Route 490. The response area is diverse, ranging from farmland and dense residential developments to light manufacturing and large commercial establishments (including the 1.3 million-square-foot Eastview Mall). The department operates out of two stations, with career personnel staffing an engine and aerial apparatus 24/7. In 2018, the department responded to over 1,000 fire, rescue and ALS/BLS EMS calls.

The Fishers Fire Department bunker program is designed to be an immersive experience where the students live in the fire station or in a district-owned house next to the station. Living space includes a private bedroom, a kitchen, laundry facilities and a common living space. Gym facilities located in both stations are available for bunk-in students to use.

The bunkers are assigned 24 hours of duty shifts per week, which they mostly spend with the on-duty career staff. To add to their response experience, bunkers are also encouraged to respond to calls outside of their assigned shifts. Daily training opportunities and weekly department drills, in the form of lectures and hands-on training, are provided to allow for development and refinement of knowledge and skills.

All applicants must possess a New York State Firefighter 1 certificate and be a member in good standing with a fire department within New York State. The department strongly encourages EMT-B certification, but it is not required. Candidates need to be registered as a student at a college or university in the Rochester or Finger Lakes area.

Both department stations are within 15-20 minutes of over a half dozen colleges and universities. While attending school in the area, past bunker students have often pursued degrees in fire science or advanced emergency medical services in preparation for careers as firefighters, EMTs/paramedics or other public service fields.

Interested candidates should contact Captain Michael Koch at mkoch@fishersfd.org or (585) 924-5955 for more information and to schedule a tour and interview.