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Fire Academy Celebrates 25 Years

Saturday, December 14, 2013
By Eladio Jaimez

FireIn 2013, Texas State Technical College and the Rio Grande Valley Emergency Training Alliance celebrated the 25th anniversary of their partnership, which includes the prestigious Firefighter Academy housed at TSTC.

TSTC conducts two academies per year and cadets must be sponsored by one of the fire departments which comprise the alliance.

Basic firefighter certification consists of 20 weeks of classroom and hands-on training to comply with the Texas Commission of Fire Protection requirements for preparation of the Texas State Exam. Training is conducted at various training sites throughout the Rio Grande Valley.

Fire Academy coordinator Vince Abrigo said the partnership between TSTC and the RGV Emergency Training Alliance was an asset to the entire Valley.

"Between the alliance's in-kind contributions like resources and personnel and TSTC's administrative support, we're doing a great service to our community from Starr County to Brownsville," Abrigo said.

Abrigo said 42 academies have been conducted in the past 25 years and over 1,000 firefighters have been certified. Some of those firefighters have gone on to become fire chiefs or high ranking officials within their departments, Abrigo said.

"There's a lot of pride from everyone involved with this academy," Abrigo said.

The cities included in the alliance are: Alamo, Alton, Brownsville, Edinburg, Harlingen, Hidalgo, La Casita, La Feria, La Villa, Los Fresnos, McAllen, Mercedes, Mission, Pharr, Rio Grande City, Roma, San Benito, San Juan and Weslaco.

TSTC's Director of Continuing Education Juan Leal said the six-month academies are free of tuition to students. Before a cadet can attend the fire academy, the student must be sponsored, or hired, by one of the cities in the alliance, Leal said.

"Depending on what they're working on, these cadets will go train all over the place in the different cities," Leal said. "If they're working on ladders, they'll go to Edinburg because that's where they do that training. When they're done, they do a two-month EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) training as well."

Leal credited the alliance for the success of the fire academy and said its dedication to the success of the cadets is second to none.

"The alliance is the Fire Academy," Leal said. "The cities give us access to their trucks. We wouldn't be able to buy one of those trucks so having them is a great asset to us. If the alliance went away, the program would go away."

To learn more about the Fire Academy, go to http://www.tstc.edu/harlingencorporate/fireacademy.

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