already have another career, said Gerald Gardener, the academy's
chief administrator and one of its instructors.
"Our program is different from most others," Gardener said. "It
runs only on the weekends and targets an audience with jobs and
families who can't go to a five-day-a-week program."
The program, adopted by GCC and the Glendale Fire Department four
years ago, runs for 11 months, starting in September and graduating a
class in August. After graduation, a student can work on finding a
job or stay with a current job with his or her newly credentialed
The Arroyo Seco cadets are more dedicated to the profession than
most fire academy students, Gardener said.
"It's a heck of a commitment to say, 'For the next 11 months, I'm
just not going to have a day off,'" Gardener said.
Tracy Keorner, 37, of Hollywood, said he found the program online.
During the week, he works a desk job in the digital-effects division
at Kodak. About a year-and-a-half ago, Keorner said, he decided he
needed a career change.
"I want to feel good about myself and my career," Keorner said. "I
was looking for something different and exciting."
Not only do most of the cadets have other jobs to contend with,
many of them also have families.
Dan Hibma, a 36-year-old framing contractor from Woodland Hills,
said the hardest part about the academy was not being able to spend
time with his 3-year-old son and 1-year-old daughter.
"It's very hard to be without my kids. Everything else I can do,"
Hibma said. "They're the ones who give up the most. In a perfect
world, I could have both."
Sherman Oaks resident Jeff Brooks, 30, said he was amazed to learn
most of the cadets are married. Brooks, who is single, often works 60
to 70 hours a week as a territory manager for Georgia Pacific, the
company that manufactures Dixie cups.
"But I don't have to worry about the pressures of family," he
Academy instructor and assistant administrator Tony Bagan said
applications to the program are being accepted and will be evaluated
in June. Acceptance to the academy is dependent on the college's
requirements. Glendale students and residents are always given
preference, Bagan said.