GREENWOOD, S.C. (WSPA) – Piedmont Technical College is launching a new fire science certificate program this fall. The first course here starts in August.

Piedmont Tech leaders said the course is coming a critical time.

“I think across the board, with our first responders, we are seeing a shortage in all of those areas,” said Tara Gonce, the Dean of the Healthcare Division.

Leaders said this course also targets younger students who will spend more time in the workforce.

“A lot of our firefighters are aging out at this point in time, and so this is a great program for us to get some of those newer graduates in to fulfill those areas,” said Gonce.

In the program, students will learn a variety of skills and techniques, including safety practices.

“Not only just fire behavior, and the best tools and techniques to be able to extinguish a fire in different situations whether it be internal structures or vehicle fires or things like that,” said Jess Mundy, the program manager for the healthcare & continuing education division. “They’re going to taught how to handle different types of situations on the fire ground working together.”

Leaders said a key part in forming this program was a partnership with the Northwest Volunteer Fire Department.

“They are providing what we would call a lab space or a space for our students to be able to practice their skills, as well as a place for them to learn how to extinguish fires in a live situation,” said Mundy.

Working with the department, students will get hands-on experience too.

“They have several pieces of equipment that will be used during our program and during our studies that are essential to our students being successful,” said Mundy.

The program is also available to Greenwood School District 50 students who are dual enrolled at Piedmont Technical College. Piedmont Tech leaders said there’s funding available right now for many students and programs. People who live in South Carolina can also take courses at no cost through the summer.