Administrators at Barton Community College shared plans Thursday for a program to train firefighters. Barton will partner with the Great Bend Fire Department to offer a fire science certificate.
Karyl White, director of Barton’s Emergency Medical Service Education Program, said the college already has state approval to offer a two-year degree in the field. But for several years, the college hasn’t taught fire science courses.
"Unfortunately, we have no equipment," White told the BCC Board of Trustees at the monthly board study session. The plan is to offer a certificate that requires 24 college credits, which can be earned in one year. Completing the certificate "makes them employable immediately," White said. In fact, the program would enable students to begin working within six to nine months, helping smaller, rural departments in the area.
"Local rural fire services struggle to find qualified firefighters and they are also challenged to retain certified personnel," according to information supplied by White and by Julie Kramp, executive director of Workforce Training & Community Education. " To become employable, potential employees need to be certified in Firefighter I and II and EMT." White and Kramp called this a "grow your own" program for area fire departments.
Great Bend Fire Department will host the fire science courses at its facilities and students will use GBFD equipment, but the courses will be open to anyone in the college’s service area. EMT classes will be taught at the college.
Students who want a two-year degree in fire science will continue to be referred to Hutchinson Community College.
Trustee John Mosier voiced support for the program. "Repeatedly, we hear from businesses in the communities that they appreciate Barton’s responsiveness to business needs, and this is just another example," he said.
Trustees also learned about a change in the Licensed Practical Nursing program, which will now require one more college credit — for a total of 41 credits — to complete.
Dr. Kathleen Kottas, who recently became director of the BCC Nursing Program, explained that the one-hour Home Health course should be reapproved by the Kansas Board of Regents for two credit hours. "Instructors are covering two hours of material," she said. So, the college will add a one-hour LPN Leadership course.
Aside from reflecting what is actually being taught, the extra hour helps students maintain full-time enrollment status, which can help then obtain financial aid and scholarships.