More than 100 students in La Porte County Career and Technical Education programs will receive certificates for completing a course in the use of fire extinguishers thanks to lessons provided by Fire Science students at the A.K. Smith Career Center.

With the help of their instructor, retired Michigan City Fire Department Captain Rob Schaffer, the Fire Science students created a presentation and demonstration for the proper use of fire extinguishers and invited all of the career tech classes to attend a session. This included a hands-on experience using a fire extinguisher – and in most cases, it was their first time using one.

Feedback from other instructors was positive, noting that the idea for this important lesson came about because A.K. Smith instructors approached Schaffer asking him to teach their students about in-class fire safety.

“I thought this would be a great opportunity for my students to learn about the public education aspect of being a firefighter,” Schaffer said. “Fire safety education is part of every firefighter’s job. This means teaching businesses how to use fire extinguishers and giving tours of the fire station, as well as teaching grade-schoolers how to ‘stop, drop, and roll’ and not be afraid of firefighters when they are fully ‘geared up.’


Public information was not the only goal of each session. With about a dozen different career tech programs offered at A.K. Smith, the fire extinguisher training was tailored to teach the different trades how to combat fires that are particular to their career paths.

For example, Culinary Arts students were taught about grease and oil fires, Automotive Technology students were trained to deal with fires caused by petroleum products, and the Energy Academy focused on electrical fires. Approximately 120 students and staff members took part in this training, and each has received a “Certificate of Completion in Fire Extinguisher Education and Awareness.”

“With the generous donation of fire extinguishers from TNT Fire Equipment and training equipment from the Michigan City Fire Department, we are able to allow students from several La Porte County CTE classes to have a unique opportunity to actually discharge an extinguisher and put out a real training fire,” Schaffer said.

More information about the Fire Science program at the A.K. Smith Career Center is available at