Despite the challenges presented by Covid-19, the TEEX Recruit Fire Academy has forged ahead and successfully completed two classes during the pandemic, with a 3rd about to start.
The Recruit Fire Academy offers two paths to firefighter certification. The traditional face-to-face academy is a 12-week program of intense classroom and physical training with hands-on training held at Brayton Fire Training Field. The 10-week online academy allows scheduling flexibility through online training, which is followed by a 3-week boot camp at Brayton Fire Training Field.
Online Class 25 started as normal in April, but when it came time for the hands-on portion of their training, they had to adjust to a different type of learning style. And TEEX had to adjust how it trained for the July 29th start of the 3-week bootcamp.
“We knew it was going to be challenging during the summer heat to practice social distancing and wearing masks for firefighter training,” said training manager Jason Loyd. “I’m so proud of all our students and amazing fire field staff who came together to formulate a plan to make both boot camps safe and successful for our students. We now know we can have successful training when everyone follows the guidelines set in place.”
Meanwhile, just as face-to-face academy Class 162 was preparing to move to College Station for 3 months, they had to adjust. And quickly. Instead of being a face-to-face academy as planned, they were transitioned to an online class on March 31st, just a week before the scheduled start date.
David Rosier, training manager for the traditional academy said the change caused a majority of the class to reconsider their options.
“We had about 57 students enrolled in academy 162, and when the announcement was made to go online we settled with 19. The students who left chose to cancel or transfer to a future class hoping that the academy would return to face to face. Those that stayed rallied and finished strong. There were some learning curves by both the students and staff,” said Rosier.
Rosier added that the next traditional academy, Class 163, which begins September 1st, will also be transitioned online.
“Out of a class of 57 we have 36 that have committed to the academy,” said Rosier. “Students are starting to accept that going back face to face may be a long time coming. The hope is to revisit the full 12 weeks of face-to-face training for the January class.”
Another big change coming this fall involves the curriculum taught to Recruit Fire Academy cadets, both online and traditional. To coincide with NFPA changes in certification requirements, TEEX is transitioning to the latest edition of the IFSAC curriculum. Moving from the 6th edition to the 7th. One of the first recruit academies to make this change, TEEX is confident that they have done a complete job of creating updated training to go along with the move.
“Vicki Park, Jason Loyd, and their teams have done a fantastic job of turning out a great product and we are looking forward to using it this fall,” said Rosier.
For more information on the TEEX Recruit Fire Academy, visit https://teex.org/program/firefighter-recruit-entry-level-academy/vc