Douglas County Missouri Fire Chief’s Association graduation (Left to Right): Lead Instructor Shane Anderson, DCMOFCA treasurer Nina Carter, Eastern Douglas County VFD Adam Hammett, Eastern Douglas County VFD Nikki Hammett, Eastern Douglas County VFD Roy Crouch, Eastern Douglas County VFD Chris Hammett, (behind Chris) Ava Rural VFD Alex Fourman, City of Ava Curly Rawlings, City of Ava Dwight Dammonn, City of Ava Logan Carmichael, (behind) City of Ava David Huffman, Missouri Fire Marshal Tim Bean, Eastern Douglas County VFD Ian Woodward, Missouri Region G coordinator Mark Arnold, (Behind) Ava Rural VFD Brian McFarlin, (Behind) Goodhope VFD Matt Jenkins, City of Ava Anthony Carmichael, City of Ava Doug McQueen.
By Michael Boyink
On Saturday, January 19, the Douglas County Missouri Fire Chief’s Association (DCMOFCA) honored 15 graduates from its Firefighter 1 and 2 Class. Eastern Douglas County, Ava Rural, City of Ava, and Goodhope Volunteer Fire Departments were all represented.
That’s the end of the story. Like many endings, however, it’s not the most interesting part of the story.
For this weekend’s graduates, the path to the podium was a new one.
“We are the first ever blended class to be approved by the Missouri Division of Fire Safety,” says Nikki Hammett, Board Secretary for both the Eastern Douglas County Volunteer Fire Department and the DCMOFCA. “Meaning, we did all of the book work online and only met with instructors for the physical parts of the class.”
Shane Anderson is a Lieutenant with the City of Monnett Fire Department (located about 2 hours west of Douglas County). He was the lead instructor for the Douglas County training. Anderson mentioned there are mainly two ways the blended training approach benefits rural areas like Douglas County – increased access and decreased time commitment.
“These people are all volunteers, both during the training and when it’s done,” Anderson says. “The blended training approach means they don’t have to spend time traveling to a college campus or fire department facility just to sit in a classroom.”
Measures were taken to ensure the students did their homework. “Using the online learning system we can give the students quizzes,” Anderson says. “We can see if they are spending time reading the textbook.”
Being a pilot program, results from Douglas County will be analyzed at the state level before being rolled out to other areas of Missouri.
“If it all goes well, it’ll be huge,” Anderson says. “We’ll be able to offer academy-level firefighter training to remote and rural locations.”
Anderson was happy with the choice of location for the pilot. “Douglas County got to do this first because it was the right place, at the right time, with the right need,” he says. “I’ve been training firefighters for 20 years, and the Douglas County people showed up with the best attitudes, they worked hard, and I can’t applaud them enough.”
More photos of the training can be found at https://www.facebook.com/pg/DoCoMoChiefs.