The 39th Annual Northwest Fire & Rescue College held on the campus of Wilkes Community College drew 83 firefighters and emergency rescue workers The Northwest Fire & Rescue College is one of the most acclaimed trainings in this state and draws firefighters and emergency rescue workers from across North Carolina and parts of Virginia, Tennessee and South Carolina. This year’s school has students from 27 different agencies from 11 different counties across North Carolina. The Fire College ran Wednesday, November 2, through Sunday, November 6.

Jonathan Newman has taken several classes over the years at Wilkes Community College. He currently works for the Wilkesboro and Lenoir Fire Departments. Newman has attended several classes at the Northwest Fire and Rescue College.

Newman stated, “The classes held during the Northwest Fire and Rescue College have always been very good classes in my opinion, but the Vent, Enter, Search class that was presented this year was by far my favorite. The training was very lifelike and presented in stages so the students could get comfortable with the techniques, before having to perform them in a realistic environment.” Newman goes on to say, “The skills taught in this class have saved countless lives throughout our nation, and the techniques are especially applicable to both small volunteer departments and the career fire departments with limited manpower.”

Regarding the training required to meet the standards of certifications and maintaining the firefighting skill set, Newman added, “I highly recommend the class, and I am grateful to Wilkes Community College for hosting the classes presented at the Northwest Fire and Rescue College, I feel like it is a wonderful opportunity to learn new skills and to get certification classes locally.”

This year’s fire college offered 18 individual classes on best practices and the most up-to-date techniques for firefighters and emergency workers to use when responding to a variety of emergency situations.

“Emergency personnel must be prepared to cope with the different situations they encounter every day. This training presented hypothetical situations from the most extreme and unanticipated to those that are pretty common for our part of the country,” says Stephen Crouse, Fire College coordinator and director of Public Services for Wilkes Community College. “The aim is for fire college participants to leave armed with the confidence and knowledge needed to walk into an emergency situation ready to make instant, life-changing decisions.”

The classes offered included courses for firefighter certification and technical rescuer. Other classes included training in Chief 101, and Fire Officer 1.

Courses offered for EMS and medical responders included pediatric advanced life support (PALS) recertification, advanced cardiac life support (ACLS) recertification, and basic life support.

Wilkes Community College offers this annual training in conjunction with the Wilkes County Firefighter’s Association and the Wilkes Rescue Squad, and this year marks the 39th year of the Northwest Fire and Rescue College. The training is held on the first full weekend of November each year; the 40th annual training is scheduled for November 3-5, 2023.

For more information about the Northwest Fire & Rescue College or to receive information about next year’s training event, contact Stephen Crouse at