News & Events

Fire Protection Student Experiences First Live Burn

December 1, 2019
two fire students battle live burn

The first live burn in the Fire Protection Technician program can be a little scary. Handling equipment and battling a live blaze for the first time can make first-year students a bit nervous.

For student Keegan Mickey, his experience was no different. “I’ve never had the experience of being that close to a fire. We were able to put together all we have learned to put it out,” said Keegan.

Keegan felt prepared for that first live burn experience thanks to the expertise and support of his instructors. 

Robert Balsamo, Blackhawk’s Coordinator of Fire and EMS Programs explained, “The basic live burn experience takes into consideration the nervousness of the student. We have designed the live burn to start small with smaller fires and then building them up adding smoke and other elements that make the final burn evolution similar to what they would experience at a typical room and contents fire. This helps to keep the students' nerves low and builds the confidence that will make them successful as a firefighter.”

“The instructors push me to be a better person,” said Keegan. He credits them for always being available and willing to help out. “They take time out of their days to help us become the best firefighter.”

Keegan is currently an intern at the Town of Beloit Fire Department. Thanks to the flexibility of program offerings at Blackhawk, Keegan is able to continue as an intern while a student.

He has always wanted to be a firefighter, but his experience at Blackhawk and the Town of Beloit Fire Department have shaped his career goals. In addition to fire science, Keegan is also interested in pursuing Emergency Medical Services.

“The great thing about Public Safety Programs at Blackhawk is that they are often complementary to each other. Fire Protection and EMS pair together nicely for more career advancement opportunities for our graduates,” added Robert.

“Blackhawk has provided me many opportunities from developing time management skills to meeting professionals in our community. There are so many resources to help students succeed,” continued Keegan.

Keegan hopes to graduate from the Fire Protection Technician program in May 2021. He hopes to land a full-time position at a fire department and eventually pursue another program – EMS.

To learn more about the Public Safety Programs at Blackhawk Technical College, visit

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