Nick Gunn trains to become a firefighter through WaNIC


Claire Good, News Editor

Are Patriots aware that within Liberty’s walls a student is midway through his training to become a firefighter? His name is Nick Gunn, and when he isn’t in guitar or AP Gov at Liberty, he’s learning how to operate a fire truck or to navigate a burning building. Gunn attends firefighting classes every morning before he rejoins his peers at Liberty during the second half of the school day.

Gunn’s interest in firefighting began his junior year, when firefighters from Eastside Fire visited Liberty for a brown-bag lunch. Fueled by his passions for helping others and being physically active, Gunn registered and was interviewed for a spot in the program. He began his training through WaNIC as a senior.

To be part of the firefighting program, Gunn wakes up at 5:30 each morning and drives to class in Kirkland. The program is funded by the Kirkland community, and covers not only the education, but the gear, helmets, and even gas money for qualifying applicants.

The firefighters’ training is organized throughout the week to cover both fire and medical-related material.

“Ventilation of fire, what to do inside a burning building, hoses – those are all things we learn about,” Gunn said. “Everything involving a fire truck too. I know how to operate all the parts, all the engineering, all the tools coming out and into them.”

For Gunn, the most challenging aspect of the class is the amount of testing. Three times a week, and with heavy emphasis on the medical side of firefighting, the tests encompass fire behavior as well as emergency technical rescues and paramedic training. The grades received on tests go towards Gunn’s transcript grades, just like how a class at Liberty would operate.

“All my elective and waiver classes are taken up by my firefighting classes, so I’ve sacrificed a lot to do this,” Gunn said. “But I’m happy that I did.”

Gunn is also happy with the program’s impression on his future prospects. With a full year of training under his belt upon high school graduation, Gunn will be eligible for hire upon completion of only two more courses. He plans to take those courses at Everett Community College, whose classes are connected to the WaNIC program.

“If you like helping people and you like fire trucks, do it,” Gunn said. “But sign up early, because it’s a high-demand class.”