GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – The Golden Strip Career Center in Greenville County has offered a course on firefighting to students for several years.

That class has received a major upgrade within recent weeks thanks to the center’s new partnership with the Wade Hampton Fire Department.

“We try to get them as fully involved as possible. So, they get on the trucks, run the calls,” Captain Nate Wardlaw, a member of the Wade Hampton Fire Department since 2004, said.

“We get them involved in training day-to-day activities. We try to enlighten them on what the fire service is really about day to day.”

Students in this class spend the first half of their day at their school and then come to the fire department for the afternoon.

Students of the program with Captain Nate Wardlaw and Fred Cunningham

“I just really wanted a physically demanding job, something that wasn’t the same thing every day like a nine to five,” according to Natalia Tapia, a senior at J.L. Mann High School. “You never know what you’re walking into with this kind of job.”

The students will graduate high school with all their certifications to become firefighters.

“I had to go to South Carolina Fire Academy, which there’s nothing wrong with,” Wardlaw told 7NEWS. “But I was there for seven weeks. I still had bills to pay while I was there. These kids are able to graduate high school, trained, especially doing on-the-job training like they’re getting to do now.”

This class also benefits the career center.

“I think there’s still a stigma about career centers,” Michelle Michael, Director of the Golden Strip Career Center, said.

“Like when I was growing up, that there were ‘those kids.’ And we like to joke about, ‘who were those kids?’ Those kids are the ones who want to make money, who want to have great skills and great training to be part of our community and to give back.”