Brooke Nasypany suited up Wednesday to head out on a call with the St. Petersburg Fire Department for her first official day on the job. Nasypany successfully completed the first round of the department's new cadet program.
"It's awesome being able to come to work every day, love what you do, and that you can make someone's day a little better is a really great feeling," Nasypany said.
The cadet program was created to help fill an ongoing need for firefighters. With a lot of retirements coming up, St. Petersburg wanted to create a program that would bring on new recruits. But the biggest barrier is often the cost of fire school.
"We're looking for people who are otherwise capable of doing the job, they have a fervor for the community and protecting them, providing them with a service, but just have some barrier from getting there. This is a way for them to transition from the person who wants to do it, to actually being a part of the fire service," said Lt. Christopher Shane Henderson with the St. Petersburg Fire Department.
That experience comes with a great bonus. The cadets actually get paid 80 percent of what a starting firefighter makes.
"I mean, you can't really complain about getting paid to go to school and getting your schooling paid for," said Nasypany.
The program helped her avoid taking on additional student loans, and she graduated with a guaranteed job with St. Petersburg Fire. Lt. Henderson hopes it's more than a job for the cadets, but the start of a career.
"And something where we can help them blossom as they go through and bring them some pride because they're able to serve our community," said Lt. Henderson.
The deadline to apply for the next cycle of the cadet program is 5 p.m. Thursday. You can apply online here.