CR’s new Fire Technology Associate of Science Degree Approved
The California Community College Chancellor’s Office recently approved College of the Redwoods’ new Fire Technology (FT) Associate of Science degree.
In the last two years CR has begun offering FT classes and is currently offering a full A.S. degree program. Ed Trigeiro, the former FT program director who developed its structure and classes, and new FT Program Director Eric Smith are excited about the new degree. They are also looking forward to initiating a State Fire Training Accredited Regional Training Program, which will also include a Firefighter I Academy, set to begin in Spring 2013.
“CR has been without a fire program for 25 years,” said Trigeiro, who several years ago retired as the assistant fire chief of the Arcata Fire Department. “The ultimate goal is to have an accredited, fulltime Firefighter I Academy that will further support the A.S. degree program and our regional fire and educational institutions. In addition to drawing not only local students, the program will draw students to CR from all over the state to be trained in structural, rescue, wildland and fire officer skills.”
Due to state-wide budget constraints, the launch of the firefighter academy is now set for spring semester 2013, when both the economy and job markets are projected to better support students of CR’s FT program. It had been hoped that the academy would start in spring 2012.
“While the state is currently undergoing a loss of fire protection-related jobs, this market will eventually turn around and there will be a tremendous need for well-trained and educated applicants,” said Smith, who recently retired as fire chief of the Eureka Fire Department.
“Eric and I envision that this delay will allow the college to strengthen itself and this program, facilitating a much more successful outcome for not only the students, but for the college and our region’s communities.”
The FT program is a part of the CR’s Health Occupations and Public Service Division, which also includes registered and licensed vocational nursing, paramedic and the CR Basic Law Enforcement Academy.
For now, CR is offering the A.S. degree program with the FT classes available in a two-year delivery plan. Those classes include fire protection organization, fire behavior, principles of fire and emergency services, building construction for fire services, fire prevention and fire protection systems. A student who is working to achieve an A.S. degree must also take the required general education courses.
With the assistance of CR Career Technical Education Grants Manager Prudence Ratliff, the program has received more than $65,000 in grant funding over the past two years, with another $12,000 expected for the 2011-2012 year. The grants have enabled the program to purchase fire nozzles, hoses, rope rescue equipment, chainsaws, circular saws, generators, a fire simulator, instructor manuals and assorted hand tools.
The Suisun City Fire Department donated a 1986 fire engine to CR two years ago.
In addition, the program offers and supports the local delivery of state fire training courses in areas of advanced officer training (CFSTES) courses including fire command, fire prevention, training instructor, management and entry level or hands-on training or F-Step courses including auto extrication, low-angle rope rescue, fire control, hazardous materials awareness and response course.
The CR FT program is applying to the California Office of the State Fire Marshal for accreditation as a Regional Training Program. This application process culminates close to two years of work that Trigeiro and the college have put forth into preparing for the accreditation process. Upon accreditation as a Regional Training Program, the program enters into a “partnership” with State Fire Training to deliver “approved” state fire training curriculum regionally.
The FT program also offers and supports a number of California Incident Command Certification System (CICCS) courses. These courses include S-130 Firefighter training, S-190 Fire Behavior, ICS (incident command System) I-100, 200, 300. The FT program also has the ability to offer courses in the various National Incident Management System (NIMS) courses that all governmental agencies are mandated to comply with to receive disaster-related funding. These include I-100 through to I-800, all of which support the North Coast’s governmental planning and preparedness needs.
Plans for the Fire Academy
In addition to seeking accreditation, the CR FT staff continues to work toward the development of a Firefighter 1 Academy which is designed to train and equip cadets to meet State of California Fire Marshal, Fire Fighter 1 Academy Standards. The academy will be a semester-long course of instruction consisting of over 700 hours of lecture and skills-based training, very similar to that of CR’s Basic Law Enforcement Academy.
The academy is generally designed to assist individuals to validate that the successful students have the basic knowledge, skills, and abilities to enter the fire service as career firefighters. Further supporting this nexus related to being a “qualified” candidate is the ability that a student at CR will become state-certified as a Firefighter 1 and emergency medical technician or a paramedic through their successful completion of both the CR FT and CR Health Occupation’s programs.
The Fire Technology Program is also working in partnership with the CR Forestry and Natural Resources Department exploring possibilities to provide basic wildland firefighting courses to its students.