The Columbia Fire Department Training Division is responsible for the broad spectrum of training and educational activities that the department conducts or sponsors. The department maintains a strong commitment to providing quality educational opportunities to all personnel.
Division Chief Terry Cassil oversees the Training Division. Battalion James Weaver conducts day to day operations of the training academy assisted by Capt. John Metz. Supplemental instructors are used from the Emergency Services and Fire Marshal’s divisions to conduct various classes. The Columbia Fire Department provides a wide range of services which makes the necessity for an aggressive training program even more important. In addition to fire suppression, fire prevention, and EMS services, the department has special operations teams for hazardous materials and specialized rescue incidents. Special operations team members receive intensive training in these specialized areas on an on-going basis.
The Training Division conducts daily and monthly training sessions at the fire training academy facility, located at 700 Big Bear Boulevard. In addition to basic firefighter training, the division conducts classes for apparatus operators, company officers and manages hiring and promotional testing processes.
Training facilities include a classroom and administration building, five story drill tower, paved drill field, drafting pit, confined space prop and a two story structural live fire training building.
The division also manages a recruit firefighter training program, which consists of a twelve week, 480 hour program that provides basic firefighting, rescue, hazardous materials and medical response skills to newly hired firefighters. Our program is of such quality that neighboring paid departments regularly send their new firefighters through our program. This joint training effort has afforded all communities involved a means of providing cost effective training for new firefighters.
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Specialized courses are identified and personnel are often sent to outside educational opportunities where they can bring new knowledge and information to the rest of the department. Examples of these outside programs are the Fire Department Instructor’s Conference, National Fire Academy, International Association of Fire Chief’s conferences, University of Missouri Fire & Rescue Training Institute, Chemical Leaman Trucking, ROCO Rescue Corp., American Association of Railroads Transportation Test Center, Texas A & M, National Foam Corp., U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Aviation and others.
Other responsibilities include responding to emergency incidents to provide public information officer (PIO) and other support roles for the on-scene incident commander. Columbia has access to three television stations, two major newspapers and over ten radio stations that we actively work with on a regular basis. We also handle procurement and distribution of station supplies, uniforms and small tools used by the department.
The training division maintains a very active role in supporting the needs of the department and the community. We offer emergency training to local businesses and work with other governmental and private agencies in coordinating emergency response training for the community.