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Texarkana College Fire Academy – Hybrid Presentation

Have you ever wanted to be a firefighter?  Are you interested in a career in the fire service?  Are you a volunteer firefighter who wants to improve your skills and elevate your certification level? Do your job or family obligations prevent you from attending a conventional 5-day per week fire academy?

Texarkana College Fire Academy is pleased to announce its new Hybrid Fire Academy.  This program, like the day academy, will prepare you for a career that provides great personal satisfaction and with good salaries, benefits and pension plans. However, this program is aimed at people whose jobs or other obligations preclude their attending a 5-day per week course.

What is some basic information about the academy?

The Texarkana College Fire Academy is a partnership between Texarkana College and the Texarkana, Texas, Fire Department.  Texarkana College is a publicly supported, two-year, comprehensive community college that offers educational opportunities in traditional academic studies, occupational/technical programs, and workforce development and community services.  Texarkana Fire Department is a career fire department serving the citizens of Texarkana, Texas.  The department operates five fire stations and has approximately 80 personnel.

The Texarkana College Hybrid Fire Academy is an 8 month program designed to prepare trainees for a career as a firefighter.  The academy is an authorized training facility for structural firefighting under Texas Commission on Fire Protection (TCFP) guidelines and trainees who successfully complete the academy will be eligible for the certification exam given by the TCFP.  In addition to the firefighter training provided in this academy, emergency medical training is also required by the TCFP before a firefighter certification is issued.  Emergency medical training is also available through Texarkana College.  Upon completion of the academy, successful passing of the state practical and written exam, and completion of emergency medical training, trainees can certify as structure firefighters.  In addition, successful trainees are eligible to receive International Fire Service Accreditation Congress (IFSAC) seals for Firefighter I, Firefighter II, Hazardous Materials Awareness, and Hazardous Materials Operations.  These seals are accepted by many states in the US and provinces in Canada as evidence of firefighter training.

How does the hybrid presentation differ from other academies?

On-site academies, such as that offered by Texarkana College are common.  These work well for those students who can attend class 40 hours per week.  For students that cannot, several on-line academies are available.  These academies typically require students to complete all work from the textbook and then attend a skills session of approximately two-week duration.  While the on-line presentation allows time flexibility for working students, the two-week skills session is a problem for many students as they are not able to take extended times off work.

In this academy, the material is broken into modules, based on the study time and skills time needed to successfully complete the module.  In each module, the student will read each chapter, view the on-line interactive lecture, complete other activities as assigned in each section, and take a test.  The module will have to be completed in a specific time period.  The student will then attend a weekend skills session.  In this session, the skills associated with the module (or modules) will be taught and tested.  This process will be repeated for each module.  Upon the completion of all modules, over approximately an eight-month period, the student will have completed the basic fire academy.

Who are the key personnel for Texarkana College? What are their qualifications?

The Program Coordinator for the academy is Harry Simms.  Chief Simms is retired from the Texarkana Fire Department after more than 30 years of service.  He worked as a firefighter, driver-engineer, captain, and battalion chief, and then served as fire chief for the last 16 years of his career.  He holds a Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences degree and is a graduate of the Executive Fire Officer program at the National Fire Academy.  He is certified by the Texas Commission on Fire Protection as a Master Structural Firefighter, a Hazardous Materials Technician, and an Instructor.  He is a Licensed Paramedic with the Texas Department of State Health Services.  He is a past president of the Texas Fire Chiefs Association.

The Lead Instructor for the academy is Alan Sikes.  Chief Sikes is a current member of the Texarkana Fire Department, holding the rank of battalion chief and supervising A Shift.  He has 22 years of fire service experience.  He is certified by the Texas Commission on Fire Protection as a Master Structural Firefighter, Driver-Operator, Fire Inspector, Instructor II, Fire Officer I, Wildland Firefighter, and Hazardous Materials Technician.  He is certified by the Texas Department of State Health Services as an Emergency Medical Technician.

Who are the instructors for the academy?

The instructors for the academy are all career firefighters.  Most are employed by the Texarkana, Texas, Fire Department.  The average instructor has 19 years of fire service experience and holds structure firefighter and instructor certification from the Texas Commission on Fire Protection.  Most hold several additional certifications.  More than half are officers – either captains or chief officers.

What are the minimum requirements to enroll in the Fire Academy?

  • Minimum age – 18 years
  • Maximum age – None set by Texarkana College, but applicants should be aware that many fire departments have maximum hiring ages.
  • Minimum education – High School Diploma or GED
  • Drug screen – No evidence of illegal drug use
  • Medical examination – Physician examination and certification required. Physician must certify that applicant is physically capable of meeting the physical demands of the academy.
  • Must be able to work independently to study and comprehend material on-line.
  • Must be able to attend weekend skills sessions.

What computer resources are required for the Hybrid Academy?

You must have a computer, printer, and internet access to take this course.  The following information is taken from the Jones & Bartlett website:
“Your computer/mobile device should match one of the supported browser and operating system configurations. Products may run on newer (or even slightly older) versions of these browsers, but a version is not considered fully supported unless it is specified with an “X” in the matrix below.”

OS / PlatformSafari 5.1.7Safari 5.1.10Firefox 28Chrome 33IE 11IE 10
Mac 10.7xxx
Mac 10.9xxx
Windows 7xxxxx
Windows 8.1xxxxx
iPad 2 with IOS 7+x
iPad 3/Air with IOS 7+x
iPad Mini with IOS 7+x
iPhone with IOS 7+x
Android tablet with OS 4.3*x
Android tablet with OS 4.1x
Windows 8 tabletxx

“+” Means minimum version, tested to latest current version widely available.
* Applications currently operate correctly, but in an attenuated manner within small screen sizes. Additionally, the Navigate eReader is not compatible with mobile devices with screen sizes smaller than seven inches. Users on smaller screens cannot necessarily access all functionality. Issue will be addressed in future release.
** Excludes Kindle and Nook platforms. Flash player used in offline ebook reader is not supported beyond Android 4.1. Issue will be addressed in future release.

Texarkana College has only tested the site on a Windows 7 computer with Firefox browser.  Jones and Bartlett indicates the other systems will work, but we cannot guarantee that.  While some aspects of the course could be completed on a smart phone, that is not recommended for the complete course.  Even a tablet will present challenges.  For best results, a laptop or desktop computer is recommended.

Are there testing requirements (SAT, ACT, TSI, THEA) for admission to the academy?

No, there are no testing requirements.  However, the course work is extensive and it is recommended that you read and comprehend at a minimum of a 10th grade level.  Good study habits and ability to learn and recall concepts are essential.

How long is the course?

There are 28 class weeks and 8 skills weekends in the hybrid course.  In addition, time is allowed at the end of the course for the final exam, which must be taken at the Testing Center on campus.  Because of breaks in the schedule for Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Spring Break, the total length of the course is about 8 calendar months.

What are the class hours?

The on-line portion of the academy is done on your own schedule, so long as you keep pace with the overall course schedule.  Skills weekends begin on Friday from 6:00 to 10:00 PM and continue on Saturday and Sunday from 8:00 to 5:00 each day.  There will be a lunch break on Saturday and Sunday, with the timing at the discretion of the instructor.

Is the certification good in other states (countries, countries, provinces, etc.)?

Texarkana College Fire Academy is authorized as a training facility by the Texas Commission on Fire Protection (TCFP) and provides training to their standards.   International Fire Service Accreditation Congress (IFSAC) recognizes training approved by TCFP.  Therefore, candidates that complete this program satisfactorily and meet the TCFP standards for certification are eligible for IFSAC seals.  Specifically, seals for Firefighter I, Firefighter II, Hazardous Materials Awareness, and Hazardous Materials Operations are available.

IFSAC seals are accepted as proof of training in the majority of US states, Canadian provinces, and a number of other countries.  See https://ifsac.org/ for more information.  While certification requirements vary in different jurisdictions, the certifications received through this academy meet or exceed the certification requirements in most jurisdictions.  However, Texarkana College cannot guarantee acceptance in any specific jurisdiction outside the state of Texas.  It is the responsibility of the individual student to determine certification requirements in the jurisdiction where they plan to work.

Is financial aid available for this program?

The fire academy is a contact hour program, not a credit hour program, and therefore is not eligible for most financial aid.

Can I pay out the cost of the academy? Is there a payment plan?

Yes, a payment plan is available.  Contact Gini Schulle at (903) 823-3393 or gini.schulle@texarkanacollege.edu for information.

What is the textbook for this course?

The textbook bundle for this program includes these three books:

Fundamentals of Fire Fighter Skills, Third Edition (Premier Package)
Hazardous Materials Awareness and Operations, Second Edition (Premier Package)
Evidence-Based Practices for Strategic and Tactical Firefighting

This textbook bundle is included in your course registration and will be issued at the orientation session.

What is a Texas Commission on Fire Protection (TCFP) PIN Number and why do I need one?

The TCFP PIN # is a number used by the commission to identify individuals certified or training under their programs.  Each individual registering with the commission is assigned a unique number and all certifications, class rosters, testing requests, course completion certificates, etc. are keyed to your personal TCFP PIN #.  If you do not have a number, go to the TCFP FIDO web site at:

http://www.tcfp.texas.gov/home/FIDO_gateway.asp

Click on “Create PIN/Account”.  Follow the instructions.  A valid email address is required to receive your PIN from the Commission.  If you do not have a valid Social Security Number (United States) or SIN (Canada), you cannot obtain a PIN through the FIDO system.  If your residence is not in the USA or Canada, contact the commission for instructions on how to proceed.

What are the uniform requirements for the academy?

The on-line fire academy is different from the day classes in that you will not be on-campus on a daily basis.  Dress uniforms are required only for graduation.  For skills weekends, the required uniform is a fire academy t-shirt, fire academy cap, and either navy blue uniform pants as described in the dress uniform section or blue jeans in good condition.  No shorts allowed.  Belt must meet the requirements in the dress uniform section.  No sandals, flip-flops, or similar shoes.

What computer resources are required for the Hybrid Academy?

You must have a computer, printer, and internet access to take this course.  The course material is on a web site provided by the textbook publisher, Jones and Bartlett.  They call their system Navigate 2.  The following information is taken from their web site:

To work successfully with Navigate 2 your computer/mobile device should match one of the supported browser and operating system configurations. Navigate 2 may run on newer (or even slightly older) versions of these browsers, but a version is not considered fully supported until it is specified with an “X” in the matrix below.

 

Operating System/Platform* Safari 7.0 Safari 8.0 Firefox 36 Chrome 41 IE11 IE10
MAC 10.7 X X X X
MAC 10.9 X X X X
Windows 7 X X X X
Windows 8.1 X X X X
iPad 2 with IOS 8+ X
iPad 3/Air with IOS 8+ X
iPad Mini with IOS 8+ X
iPhone with IOS* 8+ X
Android tablet with OS 4.3** X
Android phone with OS 4.1* X
Windows 8 tablet X X

 

“+” Means minimum version, tested to latest current version widely available.

* Applications currently operate correctly, but in an attenuated manner within small screen sizes. Additionally, the Navigate eReader is not compatible with mobile devices with screen sizes smaller than seven inches. Users on smaller screens cannot necessarily access all functionality. Issue will be addressed in future release.

** Excludes Kindle and Nook platforms. Flash player used in offline ebook reader is not supported beyond Android 4.1. Issue will be addressed in future release.

What are the requirements for Personal Protective Equipment?

Each cadet is required to have a complete set of personal protective equipment (PPE) meeting the requirements of the Texas Commission on Fire Protection (TCFP) and NFPA Standard 1851, Standard on Selection, Care, and Maintenance of Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting.  A complete set of PPE includes protective coat with wristlets and collar; protective trousers with suspenders; bunker boots; helmet with face shield, earflaps, and chin strap; protective hood; and gloves.

If you have a set of PPE issued by your department and it meets standards, that is all you need.

Because of the length of the on-line academy, cadets renting PPE will have two sets of PPE.  A set of practice gear will be issued to each cadet.  This will consist of bunker coat, bunker pants, suspenders, and boots.  This PPE will be marked as not for use in fire situations.  It can be used for the various practice skills throughout the academy, but not in live fire situations.  The PPE rental will include a helmet, gloves, and hood for use with this PPE.  For live burn week, each cadet will have to provide a full set of compliant PPE.  The rental fee includes this PPE.

Contact information for the PPE rental vendor is included in the application packet.

Please be advised that licensure for this program includes a criminal background check.  If you have a question about this action, please speak to the division dean.

Harry Simms
Program Coordinator
903-823-3404
email

Alan Sikes
Lead Instructor
903-823-3404
email

Gini Schulle
Administrative Assistant
903-823-3393
email

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