ACC Fire Academy Dedicates New Site

Over nearly two decades, the ACC Fire Training Academy has educated hundreds of first responders who are working in Texas and throughout the nation. Now the college is training future firefighters in a state-of-the-art new facility.

On December 2, ACC dedicated that location, bringing together academy leaders, cadets, graduates, and the community. The academy offered tours of the site and hosted a live firefighting demonstration with fall 2009 cadets, who are nearing the end of an intensive 17-week training course. This class is the first to go through the program at the new site, located on the same grounds as the Austin Fire Department’s Bill Roberts Training Academy.

Austin Fire Chief Rhoda Mae Kerr celebrated the ACC Fire Training Academy dedication with the college.

“I’m a huge believer in collaboration. I’m a huge believer in regionalization and working together with all our partners,” said Chief Kerr. “The better trained, the better educated our firefighters are, then the better service they can perform and also the safer they’ll be.”

For 18 years, ACC’s academy trained cadets in refurbished facilities in Taylor. This fall’s move to the City of Austin site allows the program to expand enrollment capacity to 60-70 students per year and bolsters an important partnership while providing students access to high-tech training equipment.

“Working with the City of Austin and the Austin Fire Department benefits us on many levels,” noted Paul Menches, the Fire Protection Technology Program chair. “By sharing resources, we become even more efficient and better stewards of our community’s tax dollars.”

City of Austin Mayor Pro Tem Mike Martinez also took part in the dedication. Martinez completed ACC’s EMT certification program and went on to serve as an Austin firefighter for 13 years. He congratulated ACC and the Austin Fire Department on their partnership.

“This is truly the vision that I think many folks had, that this campus would not just be for the Austin Fire Department but for the entire community,” said Martinez. “This is going to be ‘public safety university’ for Central Texas, I guarantee you.”

The ACC Fire Training Academy is a sought-after program, consistently receiving far more applications than spots available. Cadets learn to respond to emergencies, extinguish fires, contain hazardous materials, and save lives through the 608-hour course. That exceeds the state certification requirement of 458-training hours. This fall’s cadets, the academy’s 39th class, performed a live firefighting demonstration in the “burn building” and a rappelling demonstration on the drill tower following the dedication.

“Our new site just enhances the training we are able to offer,” said Menches. “We are proud to showcase the facility and the fantastic work our staff and students are doing.”

Fire Training Academy leaders extended gratitude to those who have supported the program over the years. That includes Theodore Timmerman, owner of the property ACC leased in Taylor for many years.

“Any time we had a problem, he would be there with a solution,” recalled Dr. Gary Hampton, dean of Applied Technologies, Multimedia, and Public Service. “I can honestly say the Fire Academy could not have survived through all these years in Taylor without the assistance of Mr. Timmerman.”

Dr. Hampton also thanked Capt. Ken Goodenow, the academy director, and Dr. Stephen Kinslow, ACC president/CEO, for their longtime dedication to the program. Mr. Timmerman, Capt. Goodenow, and Dr. Kinslow each received a commemorative statuette in honor of the occasion.

The ACC Fire Training Academy leadership expressed appreciation to the college’s Facilities & Operations Department for its role in establishing the new site. Facilities & Operations Executive Director William Mullane and Project Manager Marcia Babin were among those in attendance at the dedication. Babin thanked the project contractor, CL Carson Inc., as well as the architecture firm, architecture+, Jacobs Engineering, and Encotech Engineering Consultants.

“It took a lot of people to bring this project to fruition, and we are so grateful for everyone’s contribution. This is an outstanding training site,” said Dr. Hampton. “Our students who dedicate themselves to serving their communities deserve the best.”

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