By Cliff Foster
The fledgling fire studies program at MSU Denver has received a certificate of recognition from the National Fire Academy, a designation affirming that the courses are tied to nationally recognized standards of education and achievement.
The MSU courses use the curriculum and textbooks developed for the Fire and Emergency Services Higher Education (FESHE) program of the NFA, which is part of the U.S. Fire Administration, an arm of FEMA.
“The curriculum offered by FESHE was an ideal curriculum and highly desired by fire chiefs…because of its recognition at the federal level,” says Elizabeth Parmelee, director of the Center for Individualized Learning.
The NFA recognition is significant for both the University and the students enrolled in the courses, says Brian Bagwell, assistant professor of human services. Bagwell worked in the Aurora Fire Department for 20 years and was instrumental in implementing the University’s fire courses.
MSU Denver will be listed on the U.S. Fire Administration website as an accredited school, which will elevate the University’s profile and its courses on a national and international platform. As for students, NFA course certificates “I think would enhance their chances to be hired and enhance their chances to be promoted” by a fire department, Bagwell says. “Anything from the National Fire Academy is golden for those folks.”
The courses are housed in the Department of Human Services. The initial course, Personnel Management for the Fire and Emergency Services, was offered last fall. Two courses are offered this semester: Community Risk Reduction for the Fire and Emergency Services, and Fire and Emergency Services Administration.
Incorporating both online and classroom learning, the University’s FESHE courses are geared mostly for firefighters or emergency services personnel who are interested in career training or a bachelor’s degree through the Individualized Degree Program, Parmelee says. However, the courses are also appropriate for any student interested in fire and emergency services studies.
The classroom sessions at MSU Denver are held one Saturday each month to give students time to rearrange their work schedules, if necessary. Parmelee said both the fire chiefs and the students value the face-to-face learning that only a classroom setting provides.
The fire courses are considered “omnibus” or trial courses developed to determine if there is enough demand to make them a permanent part of the curriculum. Currently, 16 students are enrolled.
“I would definitely hope that, if this program takes off, it would eventually become its own major,” Bagwell says.
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