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Butler, Cowley Colleges Offering Collaborative Fire Science Training

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Butler Community College and Cowley College are working together to get more students trained to be fire responders.

The colleges signed an agreement that allows Cowley College students the ability to receive an associate degree in fire science from Butler after completing their basic certifications at Cowley.

Butler’s fire science program teaches a wide range of skills from fire suppression to emergency rescue to how to handle hazardous materials. Students operate the equipment, acquire basic EMT skills and study the chemistry involved in the way a fire behaves.

El Dorado Fire Captain and Lead Butler Fire Science Instructor Troy Jellison says the collaboration makes the fire science degree accessible to more students.

"This process where we can accept those courses and bring them right up here to Butler just creates a seamless transition for those students who desire to go on to that associate’s degree," he says.

Butler offers a residency program where fire science students live at the school’s fire station and work shifts with El Dorado firefighters.

Jellison says they select 10 students for the residency program each year.

"It gives them a live on-the-job working experience that can’t be duplicated by any college program," Jellison says.

Students also learn firefighting techniques by using the Butler’s state-of-the-art training tower that opened last year.

"It has everything for rope rescue, confined space structural firefighting and even includes a 'live burn' training room. So our students are getting high-quality hands-on training right outside the back door of our facility here," Jellison says.

Kansas has more than 600 fire departments throughout the state. Jellison says there’s an ongoing need for new firefighters.

"There are thick years, thin years and a lot of it depends on budget processes with municipalities and government agencies," he says. "But there’s always a need for high-quality, well-trained firefighters."

Jellison says there are currently more than 100 students majoring in Fire Science at Butler Community College.

For more than a decade, both community colleges have also collaborated on a joint paramedic program. Students receive their EMT training from Butler and then complete their paramedic training from Cowley instructors who teach on Butler’s Andover campus.


Follow Deborah Shaar on Twitter @deborahshaar

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