HIGHER EDUCATION FOR FIREMEN AT OKLAHOMA A. & M. COLLEGE
Agricultural and Mechanical College Provides a Two-Year Course in Advanced Fireman’s Training
FIREMANSHIP has become highly technical, and firemen must necessarily be highly trained, so why shouldn’t they be trained in colleges and universities as well as are lawyers, doctors, journalists, farmers, teachers and others?
Seeing no reason why they shouldn’t, and a good many why they should, Oklahoma A. and M. College included a two-year residence course in firemanship training when it inaugurated a new school of technical training on the campus last year.
It is the only course of its kind in the nation. However, following the lead taken by Oklahoma A. and M., other colleges and universities, a few, have indicated their intention of setting up similar programs.
Full Training Course
Already a $100,000 firemauship training building has been completed on the campus and the program enlarged. There are facilities now to accommodate approximately fifty students. Dormitory space in the new building will house forty students, and any over that number stay in other college dormitories or in Stillwater homes.
The students eat, as well as sleep in the building. Meals cost but $15 a month, and their rooms, gas and electricity are furnished. It is convenient for them to live entirely in the building, and it furthers their training.
Two years of intensive training are given the students who then are awarded a diploma. There is little question but that the “graduates” will step immediately into jobs as firemen.
The program is a combination of theory, practice and experience, all worked together deftly to provide a maximum of efficiency in training in the two years allotted the course.
In the curriculum are courses in English, fire-fighting tactics, industrial algebra, chemistry, engineering drawing, fire causes and hazards, psychology, firefighting practices, fire hazards, engineering lectures, military science, advanced mathematics, shopwork, forge and heat treatment of metals, first-aid. combustion engines, oxy-acetvlene and electric welding, mechanics and heat, essentials of electricity, fire prevention, fire protection, fire department inspection, elementary hydraulics, physiology, materials of building construction, safety engineering, essentials of public speaking, and others.
The work in firetnanship training, because there is no precedent to go by. is being worked out by the instructors in charge of the course.
On a 100-foot training tower, which forms a section of the new building, weekly drills are held in which the tyro firemen learn to work safely and efficiently on ropes and ladders, do rescue work and handle hose and other equipment.
Then, twice weekly, lectures on phases of firetnanship are given in the station.
City and College Cooperate
As to experience, that is received through the actual fighting of fires. The station is operated cooperatively between the college and the City of Stillwater. The city furnished the funds to construct the first section of the firetnanship training building, and provides four firemen who stay in the station. They act as officers and aid in the supervision of the students.
Stillwater’s interest in the program is that of having extended fire protection through the location of a second fire station.
The station answers approximately 100 calls annually and those students who have had at least one semester’s training are expected to make the calls that come in when they are in the building. They board the two trucks in the station, both provided by the city, and on a call they work alongside the regular firemen.
If a student is in a class on the campus when the fire alarm comes in, he ignores the call. In cases of two-alarm fires, however, the students are automatically excused from their classes to report for duty; and it might be added, experience.
Early Call for Fire
Shortly after the course was opened last year, the student firemen were afforded an opportunity to get some real experience almost at their backdoor. It was 6 o’clock in the morning, just as the students had donned their bunkers and lined up for roll call, that someone walking down the street noticed that Old Central, the campus’ historical old building, was coughing a little smoke and flame through the windows.
Cries of “fire” by the passerby immediately sent the young apprentices into action. Quick work on their part resulted in snuffing out the flames before appreciable damage was done.
The station is run on an orderly, almost military schedule. The boys arise at 6 o’clock, don their clothes and report on the first floor for roll call. Duties are assigned and completed and then breakfast is served. Classes are attended in the mornings and afternoons and then the students are given some “free” time before and after dinner in the evening.
The group is divided into four squads, one squad remaining on duty all night, once every four evenings. The others may spend their time as they please, but studying usually is in order. They must be back in the building by 10:30, however.
Supervision of School
The department of firemauship training. in the technical training school, is a subsidiary of the division of engineering at A. and M. college which is headed by Dean Philip S. Donnell.
In charge of technical training is W. Fred Heisler, and Raymond J. Douglas is head of the Department of Firemanship Training. Fire Chief J. Ray Pence, of the Stillwater department, also cooperates in the training, and supervises the four Stillwater firemen who stay in the building.
Also cooperating in the program somewhat is the state department of trades and industrial education, which holds meetings and short courses in the new building.
The college endeavors to train the firemen in the most modern methods of fire-fighting, life-saving, and fire-prevention, and related fields, and give them a background of theory and practice which will stand them in good stead in the emergencies they will face. In other words, they are being trained to be first-rate firemen.