Firefighter Training, Firefighting, Leadership

DFW Airport’s First African-American Fire Chief Transforms Training Facility

When then-Public Safety Officer Brian K. McKinney joined Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport in 1987, the Airport’s fire training program consisted of a small, portable building and once-a-year classes.
Under McKinney’s leadership, the DFW Fire Training Research Center (FTRC) recently unveiled a $26 million renovation, positioning it as one of the most advanced fire-training centers in the world. McKinney championed improvements like industry-leading training simulators, online classes and a comprehensive curriculum lead by certified firefighters.
But the Airport’s first African-American fire chief is already looking for what the team can do better.
“Change is inevitable, but growth is optional,” said McKinney, who became the chief in 2007. “I’m always pushing myself and my team to explore how we can better serve our customers, whether that is keeping the public safe in an emergency or training firefighters from around the world.”
McKinney didn’t start out in firefighting. Growing up in a single-income household with three siblings, McKinney graduated from Louisiana State University and began his career as a private investigator.
“But this is a dangerous game,” said McKinney, a man trained to run into fires.
Married with three college-aged children, McKinney lives in Grand Prairie.
The DFW FTRC is now one of the few centers worldwide to provide a 5,000-sqaure-foot fuel spill burn area that burns both environmentally-friendly hydrocarbon fuel and propane.

The FTRC serves a diverse domestic and international customer base with students from both private and governmental agencies. To date, more than 15,000 students from 24 countries and 29 US states have trained at DFW.