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Growing the Fire Science Department

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Keene, Texas » The Fire Science program at Southwestern Adventist university just got a boost up the ladder. Equipping the program, launched in 2014, has been challenging. When the needs exceeded the available resources, Southwestern faculty and staff prayed for a solution.

First on the list was a fire truck. While the university did find a used truck for $15,000, and received a donation toward the purchase, the cost still put the truck out of range. In addition, the truck didn’t come equipped. That’s when Brent Batla, a Southwestern alumnus who works for the Burleson Fire Department, heard about the search. The Burleson Fire Department had just purchased a brand-new truck and was looking to sell its used one. They offered the truck to the university, complete with equipment, for $10,000. The program also needed an ambulance. Careflight, a local medical transport company, heard of the need and donated two used ambulances to the university. One of the ambulances, even though inoperable, can be refurbished as a simulation lab for the fire science and EMT students.

The community support didn’t stop there! Fire Science Program Director Chad Hutchinson, who is also a volunteer for a local fire department, shared with his fellow firefighters about the growing program. One colleague, who is also an employee at the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, brought the program’s needs to the attention of airport officials. The result was a donation of 10 bags full of EMT equipment, each worth approximately $1,500.

“It is so wonderful when our local fire departments get involved to support our program,” says Hutchinson. “That is affirmation for our program, and the graduates we’re producing. We currently have Fire Science graduates testing for positions in Flower Mound, Cleburne, and Dallas. These fire departments will put our graduates through paramedic school, so this is an incredible opportunity for them.”

In addition to offering the Fire Science degree, the program has expanded to offer EMT certification to local high school students. This spring, 15 high school students from Chisholm Trail Academy and Keene ISD participated in the EMT program, alongside eight Southwestern students.

For more information about the program, visit swau.edu/firescience or contact Chad Hutchinson at 817.202.6528, or hutchinsonc@swau.edu.

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