Fire Science Studies Growing in Alabama
As two-year colleges increase in the United States, it seems only logical that the demand for vocational-oriented studies will also increase. Fire science technology is one vocationaloriented study that has received attention in recent years.
In the fall of 1968, Chief Marvin L. Still of the Alexander City, Ala., Fire Department brought the importance of a fire science technology curriculum to the attention of the Alexander City State Junior College administration. In January 1969, the college invited fire chiefs in the area to the campus to hear their opinions about such a program. The result was the appointment of an advisory committee of several fire chiefs and a college faculty member as chairman.
After this committee studied catalogs and brochures of schools offering fire science courses, two members of the committee visited Santa Ana and Pasadena City Colleges in the Los Angeles area to look at programs in progress. At this time, course content, facilities and other information relative to initiating a program at Alexander City were obtained and scrutinized. Concentration on the theories and the functions of each course was decided upon by the committee after surveys of the area conclusively showed there was a demand for a program of this nature.
No extra expense
Since men enrolled in these courses receive on-the-job training, no manipulations are taught at the college. Consequently, there is no need for fire service equipment at the college, and such a program can exist without this additional expense to the college. Instructors for these courses are officers from nearby fire departments and college faculty. These men are carefully screened for leadership and teaching ability.
The program at ACSJC leads to an associate degree, which requires 96 quarter hours of study. The courses include English, psychology, sociology, speech, mathematics, political science and physical science, with the majority of the hours in fire science. These courses consist primarily of introductions to fire protection, fire suppression, fire prevention, tactics and strategy of fire fighting, equipment and systems, codes and ordinances, fire hydraulics, rescue practices, hazardous materials, fire company organization and procedures, building construction, and fire investigation.
A certificate may be earned by a student who wishes to take only the fire science subjects. A degree or certificate may be earned by students who wish to pursue employment in fire science positions or those presently employed in fire science positions.
When the curriculum for the program was submitted to the Alabama State Board of Education for acceptance for the fall quarter of 1970, Alexander City, like most two-year colleges, was enjoying continued growth and increased enrollment. That fall, the fifth year of its operation, the college opened its doors to 1151 students.
Of this enrollment, 48 entered the fire science technology program. The winter quarter brought seven new students and in the spring, 15 more.
The value of this new program is not only in the personal enrichment of the men involved and subsequent promotion, but also in the more efficient service they can now render.
College administrative officers and directors of the program at Alexander City attribute the initial success of the program to careful planning and the genuine interest of the students.
Dr. W. Byron Causey, president of the college, stated that “this vital program serves the needs of adults in the community as well as full-time students—a role which signifies the mission of a progressive junior college.”
Charles A. Farrow, academic dean of the college; Arlon Widder, coordinator of occupational programs; and Chief Still were instrumental in formulating the fire science program for Alexander City State Junior College.