Thursday, July 14, 2016

TEEX & SFFMA: Upholding Fire Service Standards

The Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX), Emergency Services Training Institute’s (ESTI) main training facility is known as Brayton Fire Training Field (BFTF). Today, this facility is comprised of 296 acres in College Station, Texas, making it the world’s largest, most comprehensive campus for fire responder training in the world. The Brayton Fire Training Field is home of some of the best and most complex training in the country. BFTF’s 132 training props and training stations include a multitude of realistic training props that provide students the means to practice their skills under realistic conditions.

In 1929, the State Firefighters and Fire Marshals' Association of Texas (SFFMA) selected Texas A&M University as the site for a permanent firefighter training school. In 1931, the Texas Legislature authorized the creation of the school by passing House Bill No. 921. This bill authorized the A&M College of Texas (later becoming the Texas A&M University) to create, conduct and maintain the Training School. Though a long-standing relationship between TEEX and the SFFMA, many advancements and accomplishments in the fire service have been achieved. 

This partnership has been instrumental in establishing a baseline of safety and training for thousands of first responders. In FY15, 92,704 students (1,675,485 contact hours) participated in ESTI’s rigorous, hands-on training in Firefighting, Emergency Medical Services, Hazardous Materials, Rescue, Incident Management and other specialized programs both on site and around the world. Staffed by hundreds of experienced instructors, technician and support personnel who represent more than 130 specialty areas, ESTI offers approximately 200 different courses to students from across Texas, the United States, and around the world.

Advances and Benefits

During the past 87 years of TEEX's existence, there have been countless advances in the fire service.  Our main focus continues to be firefighter safety. There has also been a desire to “unify” the fire service.  What is meant by this is people desire training that is quantifiable and measured against existing standards.  Beginning in January 2015, TEEX and the SFFMA formalized a “certification pathway” for SFFMA members based on the NFPA 1001 requirements of Firefighter I & II and NFPA 472 Hazardous Materials Awareness, Operations (PPE & Product Control).  This is a voluntary certification program not meant to penalize, but reward those through the validation of their knowledge and skills.  Through advancements like these, we have moved one step closer to becoming a response community with equal knowledge, capabilities and the passion to succeed.  

This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the Annual Spanish School.  Participants and Guest Instructors from some 20+ Latin American Countries and US Territories attend training at TEEX’s Brayton Fire Training Field. Dates for this year’s school are July 10-15, 2016.  These participants proudly represent their Countries and the Fire Service as a whole. Three years ago, the Annual Spanish School changed its curriculum to match the SFFMA certification program. This provides an opportunity for SFFMA International Members to quantify their training and become part of this certification process. In addition to the fire-based courses, there are a wide variety of educational opportunities available including: Rescue Training, Hazardous Materials Training, Pump Operations, Marine Fire Fighting, EMS training, Instructor Certification, Incident Command / Incident Management, Incident Safety Officer and other training opportunities.  

To learn more about the Annual Spanish School, please visit the Bomberos pageSFFMA Membership Form.

By Gordon Lohmeyer, Executive Associate Director of the Emergency Services Training Institute at the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service.