Fire science program moving classes to firehouse

Fire science program moving classes to firehouse

Friday, February 08, 2013

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OTC's fire science program is working to bring its students so close to firefighting training that they can see it and touch it.

The program is gradually migrating its classes to the Springfield Fire Departmentís Engine House No. 6 of West Battlefield Road where the city's Regional Training Center is also located.

Former Springfield fire chief Dan Whisler, who now heads up the fire science program at OTC, has dreamed of bringing the students together with the professionals in a real-life setting.

"The working fire station is right there for students to be involved in the facility. There's the ability to have more interaction than we have now with some of the classes held on campus," Whisler said.

There are several classrooms at the facility that are being used now for OTC classes and over the next several semesters, more classes will migrate to the facility.

In addition, the program will be able to make use of the extensive state-of-the-art training facility that is located in the same building as the classrooms.

"They can learn practical skills, everything from putting up ladders to working on a training tower to practicing how to react in a flash over of fire overhead," Whisler said.

"We can do those sorts of things on campus like alive burn because of the smoke it produces."

The training facility also houses a large area where various types of rooms are replicated that allow firefights and students to go through to practice rescues and searches in dense smoke. They can practice going through different types of windows and even rappel in from a hatch in the room's ceiling.

Currently, the students are using an old house in Battlefield in cooperation with that town's fire department for training purposes.

"Eventually, we will be able to go from the classroom right into the training center and put the skills we talk about in the classroom into practical use right away," Whisler said.

Jin Trent, chief of the Nixa Fire Department, thinks moving the OTC program to the Springfield station is something that's needed.

"It needed to be done. They can have some hands-on training. Some of the students have never been in a fire department. The kids can see what all this work is about and see what it really is," Trent said.