News Search


New approach to Goodfellow Fire Officer Course to save AF money, improve capabilities

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Devin Boyer
  • 17th Training Wing Public Affairs
The Fire Officer IV Course at the Louis F. Garland Department of Defense Fire Academy here was filmed Sept. 15 to 25 in order to create a distance learning course that will save funds and improve training capabilities.

The fire academy's Fire Officer IV is the capstone certification for firefighters within the DOD becoming qualified in the role of fire chief. Currently, more than half of firefighters are trained for this leadership position outside of the DOD.

"This is the only DOD-centric fire officer training that you can get," said Ken Johnson, 312th Training Squadron chief of training resources. "If you have to get the certifications and we can't accommodate you here at the fire academy, there are other means to get the training ... however, it's very expensive, and you're not learning from your peers, you're not learning from other DOD fire chiefs."

In fiscal year 2013, the Air Force spent $2.9 million on temporary duty to allow DOD firefighters to receive the training from outside agencies.

"We only offer two courses a year, and each class is programmed for 20 students, so we have 40 slots a year," said Lt. Col. Derek R. Ferland, 312th Training Squadron Commander. "Over the last couple of years, there have been, across the entire DOD, over 100 people [who] have actually attended the training, but only 40 of them came through the Louis F. Garland [DOD] Fire Academy."

Filming the course for distance learning closes that gap, allowing DOD firefighters to take the course online instead. This will save the Air Force money by cutting down on two-week TDYs, but that isn't the only objective.

The second objective is to expand production capacity, added Ferland. "We want to be able to reach a broader audience across the DOD because we think our instructors, curriculum and training is better than any other training institution."

Senior enlisted and civilian personnel who have over 10 years of experience make up the Fire Officer IV Course. According to the 312th TRS Commander, documenting their intercommunication is a top priority.

That is where the gold nuggets really happen in an in-resident class, said Ferland. Capturing and providing that environment online is one of the number one objectives to this project.

Johnson believes the project itself will be the solution in providing the in-resident environment online.

"Firefighters are very competitive," he said. "When they know that six or seven of the lead fire chiefs in the DOD are out there watching them, they are going to rise to the occasion and want to participate. They're going to want to do very well. They're going to want to make a name for themselves."

Students will still be able to get the interaction the 312th TRS offers in the Fire Officer IV Course with the help of online discussion boards and the verbal exchanges caught on camera.

According to Army Sgt. 1st Class Brent D. Roberts, Fire Officer Course instructor supervisor, students will gain multiple benefits from taking the course online.

"First, the convenience for our students to be able to take the course from their home station minimizes time away from home and work," he said. "Second, the online environment affords us very robust multimedia instructional capabilities. Third, we can leverage the use of subject matter experts, which in this case are fire chiefs who will be assigned to participate as class mentors - a valuable resource for students."

The completion for the new distance learning course is projected for November.