Probably a week doesn’t pass that someone doesn’t ask me why the United States Fire Administration’s National Fire Academy (USFA/NFA) doesn’t have courses available for local delivery. For some time, there has been a perception that the USFA/NFA Emmitsburg campus is the only place students can attend USFA/NFA training; but we’ve been conducting courses at local sites for years! In fact, the overwhelming majority of students take USFA/NFA training without ever leaving their home states. In the fiscal year ending September 30, 1999, 43,729 students (83 percent) attended locally delivered courses, whereas only 8,871 students attended class at Emmitsburg (17 percent). Of the approximately 680 courses scheduled each year, 480 of them are delivered locally. Many of the off-campus courses are delivered in partnership with the state fire training system and are all a part of the USFA/NFA’s Distance Education Programs. There are several different delivery programs. Within each program, the majority of courses are either two or six days long.
Each federal region in the country (there are 10 regions) receives from the USFA/ NFA each year three courses ranging in length from five to 10 days. In partnership with Training Resources and Data Exchange (TRADE),1 an association of state and metro fire training fire representatives, the USFA/NFA sponsors the Regional Delivery Program. We provide NFA instructors, books, some administrative fees, and a $100 stipend to each student (to offset the cost of local travel) to attend classes. Our TRADE partners decide which courses they want, selecting three courses from a menu of nine. The courses cover a wide range of topics: Challenges for Local Training Officers, Community Education Leadership, Emergency Re-sponse to Terrorism: Incident Management, Fire Cause De-termination for Company Officers, Fire Inspection Principles, Fire Service Planning Concepts for the 21st Century, Hazardous Materials Incident Management, Initial Fire Investigation, and Presenting Effective Public Education Programs. Contact your state training director, see our catalog, or view our Web page at
STATE TRAINING COURSES
In full partnership with the state fire training system, each state in the union receives nine two-day USFA/NFA courses taught by NFA instructors. These top-notch, intense courses are designed and developed to help local departments address the issues they confront while recognizing the time constraints faced by many of our students. The curriculum ranges from executive skills to company officer leadership, from arson detection to public education, and from incident command to EMS. Each state training system selects its nine courses from a menu of 23.
The USFA/NFA delivers the two-day courses locally within the state or through the State Weekend Program in Emmitsburg. In both, the USFA/NFA provides instructors and course materials. In the locally delivered courses, our state training partners provide the facility; in the State Weekend Program, students use the USFA/NFA facility. In both programs, meal costs and transportation to and from the training site are the responsibility of the students or their sponsoring agencies. If you’re interested, contact your state fire training system for more information or our Web page at
OFF-CAMPUS HAZARDOUS MATERIALS COURSES
In addition to the nine two-day courses, state and local training partners also help us deliver off-campus hazardous materials courses-Chemistry of Haz Mat, Haz Mat Op Site Practices, and Haz Mat Incident Management. The USFA/NFA provides some course materials, audiovisual materials, tests and answer keys, and course certificates. The sponsoring agency is responsible for the cost of instructors and purchase of some related course materials. State training systems may use SARA Title III or Haz Mat Emergency Planning funds to cover those costs.
The USFA/NFA provides grants to each state fire training system to deliver terrorism courses. The USFA/NFA has developed six courses, each with the opening title of “Emergency Response to Terrorism (ERT).” ERT: Self-Study (download from the Web http://www.usfa.fema.gov/nfa/ tr_ertss. htm, or call 301-447-1189); ERT: Basic Concepts; ERT: Incident Management; ERT: Tactical Considerations for the Company Officer; ERT: Tactical Considerations for EMS; and ERT: Tactical Considerations for Haz Mat. If you are interested in attending any of these courses, contact your state training system.
Interested in pursuing or finishing your degree? The USFA/NFA has the Degrees at a Distance Program, which enrolls about 1,000 students each year! Recognizing that there is an increase in the educational requirements for mid- to upper-level positions in fire departments, the USFA/NFA works with seven colleges and universities around the country to help you achieve that goal. If you are interested in attaining your bachelor’s degree, you can complete the requirements without on-campus attendance requirements. I received my bachelor’s degree by participating in the Degrees at a Distance Program, as did my predecessor, Chief Richard Marinucci. Want more information? See our catalog or the Web page: http://www.usfa.fema.gov/nfa/tr_ddp.htm.
Recognizing the need to provide training resources at the local level, the USFA/NFA has a course hand-off program that provides courses for use for local training-courses that we don’t teach but develop for others to teach. Some of these courses are developed and then placed directly into the hand-off program. Other courses that were once two-day Direct Delivery courses have been field-tested, edited, and then placed on the hand-off menu. Currently, there are 35 courses, on a wide variety of subjects, available for low-cost purchase from the National Technical Information Service (800-553-6847). For further information, see our catalog or Web page: http://www.usfa.fema.gov/nfa/tr_cou.htm.
What off-campus training does the National Fire Academy provide to you? Four hundred eighty off-campus two- and six-day classes each year, Degrees at a Distance opportunities, terrorism training, hazardous materials courses, and ready-to-use hand-off courses. This represents a comprehensive program of nationally recognized curricula delivered at the local and state levels. If you’d like more information about the USFA/NFA, the course catalog is available on the Web at http:/www. usfa.fema.gov/nfa/catorder.htm.
1. For information about TRADE, see our Web page: http://www.usfa.fema.gov/ nfa/tr_trade.htm.
KENNETH O. BURRIS, JR., is the chief operating office of the U.S. Fire Administration. He retired as fire chief from the City of Marietta, Georgia. He has an MPA from Kennesaw State University and a bachelor’s degree in fire protection and safety engineering technology from the University of Cincinnati. He formerly served as treasurer of the International Association of Fire Chiefs.