A catalyst for the addition of safety into the Oklahoma State University fire protection curriculum was the creation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in 1970. In 1971 Dale F. Janes began his 10-year tenure as department head. Janes was an OSU Industrial Engineering and Management graduate of 1950.
Janes was an OSU Industrial Engineering and Management graduate of 1950 holding a certificate of completion — the highest recognition at the time. Around the time of his graduation, the firemanship training department changed its orientation to also produce potential employees of the insurance industry.
The fire protection course provided training in the detection and elimination of fire hazards. Students put the information gained in class and laboratory into actual use at some time during the training period.
Janes’ career with Texas Instruments and International Paper as a specialist in safety engineering contributed to the fire protection program when he joined the OSU staff. As Janes began to make changes to the program, involvement increased.
In his career with Texas Instruments and International Paper, Janes specialized in safety engineering and it was this aspect he brought to the fire protection program. As he began to make changes to the program, enrollment increased. The two-year program became a full four-year bachelor’s degree, which continues today.
In 1973, the department changed its name once again to the Department of Fire Protection and Safety Technology (FPST). New program courses dealt with industrial fire protection and safety as well as management and human relations. One final major change occurred within FPST. The Fire Protection Publications (FPP), Fire Service Training (FST) and FPST all became separate entities.
FPP was organized to oversee the writing and publishing of the red books and related materials, FPST was the academic program and FST became the fire service’s vocational training center for the State of Oklahoma. FPP and FST were combined again in the 1980s under Harold Mace and Doug Forsman but were separated again in the 1990s.
With the help of FPST graduate and current outreach instructor Floyd Luinstra, Pat Brock has developed a series of courses in Fire Protection Engineering and Technology that brings professionals from all over the world to receive training at OSU. Courses developed include the design, review, inspection, testing, and maintenance of automatic fire sprinkler systems and industrial fire pumps; property loss control for insurance property specialists; life safety code; international building code and others.
Courses have also been developed in hazardous materials and response to terrorist incidents for medical personnel that have become required training for hospital emergency room department personnel throughout Oklahoma. Through these efforts, the FPST faculty train over 3,500 people per year. Like FPP and FST, CEAT Outreach is managed separately from the department under the direction of CEAT Dean Karl Reid.
Student activities are an important aspect of the FPST program. In the 1930s, program leaders already recognized that academic material backed with practical experience created a well-rounded firefighter. As early as the program’s founding, students answered fire alarms with the city firefighters.
By late 1939, students were answering 100 alarms annually. They formed the Fireman’s Club while living in the fire station. Complete with dues, the club performed an education and social function. Unique to modern OSU are the Fire Protection Society and Student Association of Fire Inspectors.
Unique to OSU are the Fire Protection Society and Student Association of Fire Investigators. The FPST program houses student sections of the American Society of Safety Engineers and the Society of Fire Protection Engineers.
The Fire Protection Society is the oldest and largest student group on campus and founded the Sober Driver Program (SDP) that provides free transportation to students who have been drinking alcohol.
Students have also donated thousands of hours to restoring the program’s 1951 American La France fire truck at the Texas Fire Museum in Dallas and routinely conduct service activities in Stillwater and surrounding communities.
During the fall of 2009, students began to restore the program’s 1926 Ahrens Fox steam pumper fire truck at the Texas Fire Museum.
In the late 1980s, Simplex Corporation funded a $250,000 professorship within the program. In 2007, Michael Larrañaga, an FPST graduate, joined the program as department head and made fundraising a priority.
With the help of Rixio Medina, a plan was developed to explore fundraising opportunities with alumni. In April 2008, Medina sponsored an alumni dinner in Houston where a fundraising plan was presented to alumni from across the country. An OSU Foundation account for the Dale F. Janes Professorship in Fire Protection and Safety was created.
In June 2008, Mr. Medina sponsored a second dinner in Las Vegas where a plan was outlined to fund the Dale F. Janes Professorship for the university’s “40 Days and 40 Nights” fundraising campaign, in which donations of over $250,000 were quadrupled.
In only 24 days, FPST stakeholders donated over $370,000 for the creation of a $1.6 million endowed professorship. Of the 904 donors who donated to the university during this campaign, 528 donated to the Janes Professorship with donations ranging from $15 to $25,000. The Pat D. Brock Professorship in Fire Protection and Safety was established with approximately $38,000 in donations received (with pledges of $22,000). $250,000 is needed to endow the Brock Professorship.
Raising the profile of the program within the university is paramount. The current “internal” view is that the FPST program is “vocational” in nature and although it is well known internationally, the program is vital to the economy of Oklahoma, the United States or the world.
State support for educational programs continues to decrease and competition for limited internal resources continues to increase. The FPST program continues to position the accomplishments of its graduates as their foundation to gain internal resources to continue providing outstanding graduates in the future.
Many potential students scout the opportunities available at OSU. The FPST program maintains the highest out-of-state enrollment of any academic program at OSU.
Demand for program graduates remains high and faculty resources remain low. Student enrollment is limited by faculty capacity. The student to faculty ratio is 47 to one. Two of five faculty members retired in the summer 2010. New faculty and funding to supplement state funds are key to keeping the program and their graduates in par with industry needs.
The advisory board has been assembled to serve as a program advocate for internal and external stakeholders to identify fundraising and other opportunities and to help raise the perception of the department. Funding success for the Dale F. Janes Professorship and additional success with the Distinguished Seminar Series have developed fresh momentum for the FPST program.