Growing the Fire Science Department: God Still Answers Prayers

By:
Darcy Force

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 started to pray for a solution to the problem.

First on the list was a fire truck.  While the University did find a basic, 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, which would be a large additional expense. That’s when Greg Batla, Southwestern alumnus who is the fire chief 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 their used one. After talking with his department, Batla offered the truck to the University for $10,000. The best part – it came complete with all the equipment.

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, 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 DFW 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 $1,500-2,000.

“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 8 Southwestern Adventist University students.