BLOOMFIELD — For 18 Bloomfield High School students, the heat is on.

The Bloomfield Fire Department, in conjunction with Bloomfield High School and San Juan College, is offering a dual-credit Firefighter 1 course.

The class meets four days each week. The first "live fire" class was Wednesday, and it challenged students to use portable fire extinguishers to battle a blaze in a 10-by-10-foot pit of combustible liquids.

John Mohler, the Bloomfield Fire Department's assistant fire chief, is teaching the course.

"I've taught the course before at the state academy, but this is all high school students," Mohler said. "We weren't expecting more than 10 students, but this is a large group and shows they're interested in firefighting, which is great."

The class began on Aug. 19, and Wednesday was the first chance students had to put down their pens and textbooks, suit up in protective clothing and put what they've learned into practice.

"It's a baptism by fire, pretty much," Mohler said. "They were all pretty excited, a little nervous. It's a first big step; this isn't me in the classroom."

This week, students will work with ropes and knots, hoisting tools to the roof of the burn tower behind the station house, Mohler said.

"The main goal at the end of the 16-week semester is for each student to go from plain clothes to uniform and air pack in less than two minutes, take a written final exam and attack live burns to pass," he said.

The department plans to offer the class each fall semester, along with a medical responder class held each spring.

"Between those two classes, it's a good foundation to be a firefighter," Mohler said. "The objectives of the classes are what we require of our own personnel."

James Fenton covers Aztec and Bloomfield for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4631 and Follow him @fentondt on Twitter.