Part of NPC’s mission is to be an active and helpful contributor in the communities we serve. NPC’s Welding Department helped further that goal by working with the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and the Vernon Fire District (VFD) earlier this year to complete important community service projects. The quality work produced by the student welders, under the direction of NPC instructors Frank Pinnell and Randall Hoskins, saved both agencies money and strengthened community partnerships. “We’re always looking for community service opportunities that benefit student learning and these were good projects to work on,” Pinnell says.

This spring, VFD commissioned NPC welding students in Show Low to build a new dining table and students at the St. Johns Center to remodel an existing brush truck, which later supported the efforts of personnel who battled wildfires throughout the West. 

NPC students and lab aides remodeled a “brush truck,” which supports 20-man fire crews conducting back burn operations and assisting in wildfire containment in areas that are inaccessible to large fire engines. They fabricated and welded an aluminum bed and side boxes for the back of a 2001 Dodge truck, which firefighters use for hauling chainsaws, axes, hoses, picks, fuel and water to wildfire sites. The remodeled truck replaced the existing heavier steel construction and, coupled with the installation of a new water tank and pump, transformed the vehicle into a much lighter firefighting platform. 

Pinnell says, “I thought it would be a great project for our current and advanced students. They enjoy taking on difficult tasks and making them come to life.” NPC dual enrollment students Elijah Ballard, Porter Hamblin, Markas Adams and Nathaniel Davis Jr., all from Round Valley High School, completed the truck project along with lab assistants Bradley Brown and Don Yeski. 

Duane Noffz, captain and wildland coordinator for Vernon Fire District, praised the work of the students. “The finished project exceeds our expectations. Chief Dave Niehuis, our district board, our firefighters and I are all extremely pleased with the finished product. The brush truck served our needs extremely well during the 2018 fire season.”

The 20 firefighters in Vernon who battle those blazes are now replenishing their nutritional needs on a second project, an aluminum dining room table built by NPC welding students Seth Hamblin, Jace Gardner, Isaac Brewer, Juan Perez, Dylan Montejano, Daniel Reel, Seth Despain, Angel Estrada, Utah Reed and Taylor Plumb.

The U. S. Forest Service also enlisted the skills of NPC student welders from St. Johns in a project to curtail the drowning deaths of wildlife by creating 88 escape ladders used by wild birds and animals to climb out of livestock water tanks. The students cut and bent metal, then welded a hook onto each ladder, which fastens onto the inside of the water tank. Their work to preserve wildlife saved the USFS $580 in labor costs. Birds, bats and other animals that fall into water tanks can now use the ladders to climb out alive, and farmers can rest assured that their water tanks, which livestock and wildlife drink from, are not contaminated by dead, decaying creatures.

Participating students were: Anjelica Cuiriz, Colter Muldoon, Tyler Botts, Christina Caballero, Jarrod Padilla, Ednei Yabeny, Colby Hyer, Casey Hyer, Jordan Lunsford, Cresencio Jaramillo, David Westbrook, Chase Jarvis, Dustin Finch, Charles Holliday, Draeden Hill, Brandt Newby, Markas Adams, Elijah Ballard, Nathaniel Davis, Dalton Delor, Porter Hamblin, Westin Lee, Tim Rasmussen, Samantha Weller, Damien Myers and lab aide Grant Winters.

Valerie Horncastle, district wildlife biologist with USFS in Springerville, says, “We are very satisfied with the NPC students’ work. They did an amazing job and after the ladders were painted they were placed out in the field during the summer.”

“As a community college, we like to help where we can,” says Hoskins. “The students who volunteered got the opportunity to learn fabricating skills that will help them in their future careers.” 

NPC’s welding program is open both to high school students and adults at three NPC locations: Show Low, Holbrook and St. Johns. NPC even offers two unique welding courses: Metal Art and Metal Armour Fabrication. Find out more at