College Boosts Texas Firemen’s Status
Dallas Fire Department
Dallas County firemen are enthusiastic in their support of El Centro College courses that oiler them advanced professional training.
When the new El Centro College of the Dallas County Junior College District opened its doors to students in September 1966, the response of Dallas firemen was terrific. The college offered courses in fire protection technology, and the response of firemen was greater than the program could handle. To solve this problem, Dallas County cities were allocated classroom seats based on the number of paid firemen in each city.
Chief C. N. Penn of the Dallas Fire Department held a drawing to determine the Dallas firemen to be enrolled in the first semester. Because of the limited space for this program at El Centro, Penn offered the college the use of the large conference room at the Central Fire Station for evening classes. So in addition to classes on the campus, college classes have been held in the conference room four nights each week. The room is large and has blackboards, screens, pegboards and other training aids. With the addition of overhead projectors and a variety of other visual aids from El Centro College, the conference room is well suited to college instruction.
More courses offered
The response to the original courses was so gratifying that additional courses were offered to firemen in the spring semester. Some 192 firemen were enrolled in the last semester.
The Dallas County fire departments have modern, aggressive and comprehensive in-service training programs. The college courses are designed to build on this training. Faced with rapid advance in all technological fields, Dallas firemen recognize the need for this advanced education.
The objectives of the fire protection technology degree program are to provide advanced professional training for firemen and to instruct both firemen and fire officers in the knowledge and skills needed to perform their duties efficiently. The curriculum will both prepare a man as a career fire officer and enrich his cultural background. It is designed to improve the fireman’s professional qualifications in fire prevention, administration, supervision, and fire control techniques, and to promote an understanding of municipal government with emphasis on the fireman’s role in today’s society.
Associate degree program
Upon completion of the 60-hour, two-year program, an associate degree in fire protection technology will be awarded. Firemen attend classes while off-duty. The same class is conducted on two consecutive nights each week so that all firemen can attend. For each subject, a fireman attends one class period for three hours weekly, from 7 to 10 p.m.
The two-year degree program consists of four semesters with five courses in each semester. Each course carries a three-hour credit for a total of 60 credit hours for 20 courses. The courses offered are as follows:
First semester: applied composition and speech, American civilization, introduction to fire protection, introduction to fire administration, fire service mathematics.
Second semester: applied composition and speech, American civilization (advanced course), fire prevention theory and application, fire operations strategy, fire investigation and arson.
Third semester: fire protection through building construction, applied psychology, fundamentals of speech, municipal and county government, one elective course.
Fourth semester: protection systems in industry, urban social problems, advanced administration procedures, chemistry of flammable materials, introduction to the humanities.
Dallas and many other cities pay the tuition of firemen who complete these job-related courses satisfactorily.
El Centro College leaders and Dallas County fire officials are well pleased with the progress of the fire protection technology program and its widespread acceptance.
Chief Penn said, “It is the consensus of opinion among fire service leaders of the country that ‘education is the key’ and the most important prerequisite toward the ultimate goal of professionalizing the fire service. The fire service educational courses offered by El Centro College afford the firemen of Dallas County a wonderful opportunity to better prepare themselves to meet the present challenges confronting the fire service and the more complex problems they must face.”
Chief Richard Russell of Richardson, president of the Texas Fire Chiefs Association, commented, “The fire protection courses at El Centro are the finest thing that has occurred within the fire service in Dallas County.”
Dr. D. T. Rippey, dean of El Centro College, remarked, “The basic function of a modern junior college is to meet the educational needs of the community that it serves. In serving this objective, El Centro College has been privileged to provide courses leading to a two-year degree program for the professional fireman of Dallas County.
“Included in the fire protection technical program objective of teaching the technical skills involved in fire fighting,” Rippey explained, “is the additional objective of educating these men in human relation skills together with an understanding of their role in society.”