Carrollton and CFBISD Establish Fire Academy and EMT Program

Carrollton, Texas – Carrollton City Council unanimously passed a resolution in September 2023 to sign an interlocal agreement with the Carrollton-Farmers Branch Independent School District (CFBISD) for Carrollton Fire Rescue (CFR) to support and staff a Fire Academy and Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) Training Program at Creekview High School (3201 Old Denton Road).

“This is the next step in the already strong relationship between CFBISD and CFR,” Carrollton Fire Chief Michael Thomson said. “Conversations between CFBISD and CFR staff sought to bridge the school district’s need to offer career-centered programs and the City’s future need to recruit high quality Carrollton Fire Rescue candidates.”

The desire for both parties, according to Thomson, was to establish a Fire Academy for students based on a foundational curriculum of professional Fire Academy and EMT classes through full integration of high school and college coursework plus post-education, professional training. CFBISD is drafting plans to transform a large storage area into a full-size engine bay from which the program will eventually operate the academy, including special classroom and office spaces. Creekview High School was chosen for the Fire Academy, because it has the best available space in the district.

“CFBISD’s Career and Technical Education department develops students who are trained, certified, and hirable,” Creekview High School Principal Leon Sulak said. “The addition of Carrollton Fire Rescue’s Fire Academy and EMT Training program to the school district’s academy lineup of offerings has received an overwhelming response. It’s a wonderful opportunity for students be able to prepare in high school for a career path of choice, be able to learn from one of the best fire departments in the Metroplex, and be given the opportunity to step into a professional position in the Fire Service and give back to their hometown community.”

The Fire Academy curriculum is a four-year CTE program with the first two years being an introduction to the fire service career pathway with the capstone being the actual hands-on Firefighter I & II and EMT-Basic academy experience students’ junior and senior years, Thomson said. The first freshman class began with 19 students in September 2023 and grew by the end of the semester to more than 45, and all are in their second semester of training.

Photo Courtesy of Sam Iturrino

“The Fire Academy provides a sterling opportunity to have a rewarding, in-demand career for students who would struggle with the rising cost of further education,” Christopher Holterhoff, CFR Apparatus Operator/Paramedic and Lead Instructor at the Fire Academy, said. “Once signed up for the program, the Fire Academy becomes a part of the student’s normal schedule. The core class obligations can be met, while still allowing juniors and seniors in the program to double or triple block the Fire Academy classes. This is how the students are given enough training hours during their last two years to qualify for industry-level certifications.”

According to Holterhoff, students will receive course completions for both Texas Basic EMT and Basic Firefighter and will be eligible to take the Texas state exam to become fully certified. Regardless of whether a student passes the state exam, if a student passes the courses as offered, they will receive college credit.

“Once students graduate and pass the state exam, they will be fully certified as both Texas Commission on Fire Protection Basic Structural Firefighters and Texas Department of State Health Services EMT-Basics,” Holterhoff said. “This means they will be hirable in many cities directly out of high school. If they want to apply to Carrollton Fire Rescue as a firefighter, and are hired by Carrollton, the current salary scale would begin at $75,000 their rookie year, increasing each year until topping out at $96,027 base salary after only five years of service as a firefighter.”

According to Thomson, the academy will also offer guidance and planned assistance for those who wish to further enhance their chances of entering an EMT-Paramedic program which can open even more doors for them.

“The Fire Academy is not only about the career opportunity, but also about revealing the students’ deeper character, bringing them further into the culture of excellence expected in the Fire Service,” Holterhoff said. “Carrollton Fire Rescue is an excellent fire department by any metric. The expectation would be to have that excellence spill over into the Fire Academy and help the students become better in many aspects of their lives. The program is not just about firefighting, it is about growth, mentally and physically.

Holterhoff said it really comes down to helping the students uncover themselves and grow into who they can become if they try, creating great firefighters for the City of Carrollton, and having fun doing so.

For more information, visit and search Fire Academy, or email


News Article Published by: City of Carrollton