IE 11 Not Supported

For optimal browsing, we recommend Chrome, Firefox or Safari browsers.

Regional Fire Academy Will Draw from Several States

A new fire academy set to be unveiled this summer in Joplin, Mo., will offer candidates from several states the instruction they need to pursue a career in firefighting and give employers a pool of qualified candidates.

Three firefighters stand in front of an orange blazing fire.
A regional fire academy, slated to begin this summer in Joplin, Mo., aims to combine the resources of the local university and the local fire department to offer residents in multiple states a head start into firefighting and provide a certified pool of candidates for fire stations looking for firefighters.

The Joplin Fire Department, along with the city of Joplin and the College of Health Sciences at Missouri Southern State University (MSSU), have partnered to deploy the academy, which is expected to attract applications from Missouri and other states including Kansas, Oklahoma and parts of Arkansas.

By sharing resources, the partnership ensures the academy meets the needs of potential applicants, as well as those looking to hire fire personnel.

The academy will give potential firefighters one-stop access to the training they will need to show employers that they are ready to become firefighters and will not have to be sent to the fire academy. In turn, employers will have a pool of candidates that aren’t too green and in whom they may not have to invest a lot of resources initially.

“It really is a win-win, where we have resources that [the fire departments] don’t have because we’ve partnered, and they have some resources that we don’t have,” said Ted Lee, MSSU’s director of emergency medical services department.

The academy begins this summer with the Fire I course, a basic course that is focused on ground operations, personal protective equipment, basic fire characteristics, safely entering and exiting a burning building and responding to various fire events. The Fire II course will begin in the fall and cover hands-on teamwork, how to suppress wildfires and how to safely manage a fire-ground environment.

The academy will also include courses on EMT training and hazardous materials and operations. The courses will enable students to obtain the International Fire Service Accreditation Congress (IFSAC) certificate.

“Any fire department looking to hire professional will want the certification,” said Mark Cannon, assistant chief of fire training at the Joplin Fire Department.

Cannon said the Joplin Fire Department, like those around the country, is experiencing difficulty hiring qualified personnel.

“The issue we’re running into is a shortage of certified firefighters, so we hope we can reach the folks in our region who have a desire to do this.”

Cannon, who will help teach the curriculum, said the classes will run 16 weeks and then students will be presented with a skills challenge exam by the Missouri Division of Fire Safety, as well as a written exam. “After that, if they pass both exams, they’ll receive the certificate,” he said.

The academy will have the benefit of a multimillion-dollar training facility that was partially funded with money that was received for tornado recovery after the devastating tornado of 2011.

The idea of the academy was broached in 2017, but progress was delayed when COVID-19 took hold last year. Lee said there’s been a good media push to get the word out and reach out to high school and junior college students in the state and region.

“Right now, we probably have about a quarter of the class filled, and we’re still taking applications,” Lee said.
Special Projects
Sponsored Articles