Riverview High senior is a pioneer

Cadet Jared Brandes posing with Riverview Firefighters Justin Lesniak (left) and Jared Collins, Fire Chief Ron Lammers and Firefighters Amy Dunn and Tim Webb.

Jared Brandes first cadet in fire department program 

DAVE GORGON

Jared Brandes is a high school senior, a college student and a cadet in the Riverview Fire Department – all at the same time.

Brandes is part of a dual enrollment partnership that allows him to earn college credit at Schoolcraft College while finishing his last year at Riverview Community High School. Since he is studying firefighting at Schoolcraft, he will be eligible to join a fire department after completing the program.

Since he is the first Riverview student to go through the dual enrollment program for firefighting, he is considered the “poster child” for the program.

“I’m loving it,” said Brandes, who is 17 years old and lives in north Trenton. “It’s a great program. Schoolcraft does such a good job teaching everything to us. They give you the full hands-on experience. The environment is amazing.”

Brandes said he learned of the program from his father Corey, who saw the class listed in the high school schedule program. Mother Ketura said both parents were impressed by Schoolcraft’s ability to demonstrate the “realistic experience you would have as a firefighter.”

“He wants to get a job helping people in general,” said Riverview Firefighter Amy Dunn, who works in fire prevention and community relations. “After school, he is probably going to be a police officer or firefighter.”

Brandes has plenty of inspiration to pursue a career in protecting others. He has members of his family, past and present, and even his circle of friends who have served in the military and public safety jobs, including police and fire.

Fourteen known relatives have served in the military, dating back to World War II, when great uncle Roy Brandes, who served in the Army, was killed in action and distant relative Calvin Kulberg, who served in the Air Force, was shot down in Europe.

On the public safety side, Brandes’ late great grandfather Carvil Alexander Kulberg Sr. served as a lieutenant in the Dearborn Police Department. Currently, family friend Mac Slowik is a firefighter in Westland.

“My inclination is to go into a field like that,” he said.

Brandes is off to a great start, according to Riverview Fire Chief Ron Lammers. He has already been certified in Firefighting 1. Firefighting 2 and Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) are next. After passing a course, he takes a state test and demonstrates “practicals.”

In high school, Brandes has concentrated on taking core classes. His junior year included classes in English, math and chemistry during the day with courses at Schoolcraft four hours a night on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. 

As a 12th-grader, he’ll take senior math and English in Riverview and courses Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at Schoolcraft.

“The first semester entails classroom time with lectures and daily physical training,” Dunn said. “The second semester includes hands-on training, drills and Riverview Fire Department ride-alongs. The city is extremely lucky to be able to offer this to students at no cost.”

Brandes recommended any student enrolling in the program to read the information before class and read the entire book. He also suggested exercising with some cardio prior to starting the physical training.

He praised the format for the academy and his Schoolcraft instructors, as well as his mentors in the Riverview Fire Department.

Riverview fire officials hope Brandes will join the Fire Department once he is certified.

“He’s excellent,” Chief Lammers said. “He’s actually the first candidate in the program and we’re hoping to expand upon that. It’s a great opportunity for kids in high school. He can graduate from high school and have his Firefighter 1 and 2 and EMT certification.

“This young man is very motivated. I know he’s into sports as well. From what I understand, he’s done extremely well at Schoolcraft.”

In Riverview, Brandes has played football for six years. He also works part-time at the family-owned gym/kickboxing studio, 9 Round, located on the border of Woodhaven and Trenton.

Meanwhile, Schoolcraft classmates selected Brandes as a class officer in the firefighting program. 

Lammers said there is a national shortage of firefighters in fire departments. In the long term, he said, it will pay off for the students and for departments.

“It’s such a unique program,” the chief said. The training is valued at $5,000, Lammers said. 

Both the chief and Dunn urged any interested student to contact his or her high school counselor. Students are vetted for the program to make sure they can handle the workload.

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