The College of Health Sciences has partnered with the Joplin Fire Department to reignite a regional fire academy.

“The last fire class at Missouri Southern was several years ago, and then (the program) went dormant,” says Ted Lee, director of Missouri Southern’s Emergency Medical Services program. “There’s been an interest in it. Local fire departments are looking for people who are certified and qualified to come into new positions.”

The partnership kicked into gear this spring with an Emergency Medical Technician course that will lead directly into a Fire 1 course offered this summer at the Joplin Public Safety Training Facility. An eight-week Fire 2 course will follow in the fall. The multi-million dollar training facility allows instructors to create realistic conditions for firefighters.

“(The Fire 1 course) starts very basic,” says Lee. “It focuses on fireground operations, personal protective equipment, basic fire characteristics, how to safely enter and exit a burning building, and how to respond to different fire events.”

Industrial issues, such as the characteristics of containers used to hold gas and flammable liquids, will also be covered.

Two instructors from the city will lead the classes; regional adjunct instructors who are qualified through the state will also be hired to help teach rotations. Class sizes will be kept relatively small, Lee says, with only 15-18 students. The smaller class size is a safety precaution, allowing instructors to focus on student safety.

“It’s a win-win for the city and Missouri Southern,” he says. “But it’s something that’s going to be very beneficial for the area, because the fire departments work closely together for mutual aid. Volunteer fire departments can also have people come in to get their training. “They’ll come through our certification program and be eligible for testing at the national registry to become a certified EMT, then do Fire 1 and 2 and be employable and ready to go. The hope is to reduce fire departments’ orientation requirements so they don’t have to do as much in-house training and instead just focus on the job. Hopefully we can shorten that window for them.”