RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas –
Because of an agreement between Randolph Fire and Emergency Services and a local fire-training academy, area student firefighters will be able to use the base's state-of-the-art fire-training facility.
Starting this fall, cadets from the San Antonio College Regional Fire Academy will participate in exercises at Team Randolph's fire-training facility, which is located on the east side of the base near the stables.
Mark Ledford, Randolph Fire and Emergency Services chief, said the agreement is a win-win situation for Team Randolph and the fire academy.
"It's a good opportunity for both of our organizations," he said. "San Antonio College will be able to fully train their cadets here and we will be able to have two or three of our firefighters train with them."
Under the agreement, SAC will coordinate the training schedule for the fire-training facility's use, provide all the apparatus, equipment and supplies needed for the training and the trailer to house them and provide training instructors.
Fire academy cadets will maintain the fire-training facility during training exercises and make sure the exercises comply with National Fire Protection Association standards. The firefighter cadets would have to sign "hold harmless" letters that would allow them to train at the facility.
SAC is required to provide cadet and instructor information to RFES so visitor passes can be issued for them to get on base.
In turn, RFES is expected to provide a training officer, who will be the point of contact for Team Randolph, provide support of certified base personnel during the first several training sessions, re-service equipment at the facility, assist with base access for the students and instructors and notify local and environmental agencies when an exercise will occur.
The fire academy is expected to use the fire-training facility an average of 10 days during a class semester.
Gary Fox, chairman for the SAC Protective Services Department, said training at the base fire facility will make the cadets better firefighters.
"They will be given the opportunity to go into a live fire building before they become certified firefighters," Mr. Fox said. "The cadets will see what it is like to be inside a hostile fire environment and the skills they learn, such as search and rescue, ventilation and fire suppression, will be put to use by them."
The fire-training facility, which was completed earlier this year, is a three-story building that can be used for search and rescue, repelling and gas and combustible fire settings.
Chief Ledford said base firefighters should learn a lot by training with the fire academy cadets.
"The training will help reinforce fundamental firefighting techniques to our firefighters," he said. "Our firefighters will be able to re-familiarize themselves under a realistic yet controlled environment. It will help us provide better service to those people who visit, work and live at Randolph."
This is not the first time the fire academy cadets have trained on base. In the early 1990s, the SAC cadets trained here when the base's training facility was a cinder block building, Mr. Fox said.
Previously, the fire academy has trained at Lackland Air Force Base, Fort Sam Houston and the Guadalupe County Training Field north of Seguin.
Mr. Fox said he first considered the idea of training at Randolph when he heard by word of mouth from his cadets that the base had built a new fire training facility.
Chief Ledford said Mr. Fox contacted him in September about the fire academy using the base's fire-training building.
"SAC came out and did a site visit," he said. "They talked about what their expectations were and we were able to set some ground rules for the facility's use."
After SAC and RFES came to an agreement, the hold harmless letter was sent to the legal offices on base and at SAC, who both approved them.
"We got this agreement done pretty quickly," Chief Ledford said.
Chief Ledford said the agreement with the fire academy will not cost the base anything and that the agreement does not have an end date as of now.
"The agreement is such a good opportunity for both organizations that we don't want it to end," he said.