PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Twelve Central High School students took a mock test of life-or-death Wednesday afternoon.

The capital city recently launched the Student Firefighter Academy, which is a summer program where rising seniors can get a taste of being a first responder.

The students must complete a 150-hour paid program with certified instructors, donning firefighter gear and even training to conduct searches and rescues.

In a training exercise Wednesday, the students went into a smoke-filled room and retrieved a mannequin.

The program is part of a citywide effort to encourage students to later become firefighters.

The training exercise happened on the heels of two dramatic rescues by Providence firefighters.

Firefighters rescued four people and two dogs from a burning home on Hewitt Street Wednesday morning. Last month, a Providence firefighter rescued a man from a second-story balcony during a house fire on Rhodes Street.

Providence Commissioner of Public Safety Steven Paré said preparation is the key for these heroic acts.

“If you have the confidence that you can go in there and extract people that may be trapped, it’s bravery but it’s also built on training skills and confidence that you’ll survive,” Paré said.

After the summer program, students can complete an additional required firefighter course throughout the school year that would make them eligible to test for entry at the Providence Fire Department Training Academy next summer.

The students would have to take a physical and psychological evaluation to apply to the academy.

“This is a tough job that takes a certain individual,” Paré said. “This program exposes our young children, our young students.”