More than 25 Fontana High School students smiled with joy as they huddled around a fire engine and helped deliver it into the school’s Fire Technology and Emergency Services classroom, McGinnis Station 815, during a traditional push-in ceremony on Jan. 10.
Members of the Fontana Rotary Club and San Bernardino County Fire Department, who teamed up to donate the fire engine to Fontana High, joined students and staff in cheers and a round of applause during the push-in ceremony. It was the first of many hands-on activities for Fontana High’s Fire Technology and Emergency Services career technical education (CTE) students on the retired San Bernardino County fire engine.
“This fire engine is going to deepen the learning experience for our fire and EMT students,” Fontana High Fire Technology and Emergency Services CTE Director George Rojas said. “We are going to be getting valuable hands-on experience working with this fire engine every day.”
The San Bernardino County Fire Department donated the fire engine to the Fontana Rotary Club and Luis Echeverria, the owner of Final Touch Construction. Echeverria and the Fontana Rotary Club then donated the fire engine to Fontana High.
For many at Fontana High, the push-in ceremony was emotional on more than one level as it served as a testament to the enduring legacy of Michael McGinnis, the first director of Fontana High’s Fire Technology program. McGinnis, who died in 2021 and had the program’s classroom named in his honor in October 2023, first presented the idea of bringing a fire engine to Fontana High to then and current assistant principal Marissa Beitler.
“To many this may just be a beautiful and well-loved fire engine, but to some of us here this is an absolute dream come true,” Beitler said. “McGinnis’ time on earth here was cut short but this engine before you is proof that he is still working for FOHI and helping us complete McGinnis Station 815.”
Before the day was done, Fontana High Fire Technology cadets met with San Bernardino County Fire Department Chief Bryant O’Hara and asked him questions in front of the new campus fire engine.
Fontana High students will get regular practice washing and waxing the fire engine, pulling and rolling up its hose and deploying its ladder, aiming to provide the cadets a leg up on their peers as they pursue careers as a firefighter, Rojas said.
“This makes everything so much more real for us,” Fontana High senior and Fire Technology Cadet Battalion Chief Delilah Garcia said. “We can learn how to work with a fire engine in real life, instead of having to watch a video or read about it in a book.”