COLLEGE STATION — A record class of 68 new firefighters graduated from the 18th Online Firefighter Recruit Academy on April 16 at the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service. They completed 335 hours of training online before traveling to College Station for an intensive 21-day, 210-hour, hands-on firefighting “boot camp” at Brayton Fire Training Field.
The graduates came from Canada, Texas, California, Idaho, Washington, Alaska, New York and New Hampshire. Chief Paul Henley of the Corsicana Fire Department was the keynote speaker at the graduation ceremony at the Annenberg Presidential Conference Center at Texas A&M University, which was broadcast on Facebook Live. A reception for the graduates was held at the Smith Building at Brayton Fire Training Field.
Class Valedictorian was Jessie Lawson of Hamilton, Ontario, and Eric Boivin of Cambridge, Ontario, was voted Outstanding Cadet by the class. The Run for Remembrance Foundation presented a scholarship award to Jessica Shields of Pefferlaw, Ontario. The scholarship is given in memory of Eric Wallace and Greg Pickard, firefighters who lost their lives in the Knights of Columbus fire in Bryan.
The Firefighter Recruit Academy prepares entry-level firefighters to earn the Texas Commission on Fire Protection, International Fire Service Accreditation Congress (IFSAC) and ProBoard certifications for Firefighter I, Firefighter II, Hazardous Materials Awareness and HazMat Operations.
The program is eligible for college credit through the Fire Science Technology degree program at Blinn College and the Fire and Emergency Services Administration degree program at Texas A&M University-San Antonio.
The TEEX Academy meets or exceeds the requirements in most states and countries for preparation and/or certification of municipal firefighters. The Online Firefighter Recruit Academy has trained nearly 600 certifiable firefighters since the first class was held in 2011.