COLLEGE STATION — Thirty-five new firefighters graduated Aug. 20 from the 19th Online Firefighter Recruit Academy at the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX). 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 Texas, California, Nevada and Washington in the United States, and from Ontario, British Columbia, and Alberta in Canada. Parker County Fire Marshal Kurt Harris 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 Keith Sagray of Spring, Texas, who is a member of the Klein Volunteer Fire Department. “After a few struggles early on, the class came together as a team about halfway through the boot camp,” said Online Firefighter Academy Training Manager Jason Loyd. “This is the first time I’ve had a recruit class vote for The Class’ for the Outstanding Cadet Award. This demonstrates their teamwork, which is the hallmark of the fire service. The plaque will be displayed in the Recruit Classroom at Brayton Fire Training Field.”
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, Loyd said. The Online Firefighter Recruit Academy has trained nearly 600 certifiable firefighters since the first class was held in 2011.