Firefighters from all over the country are in College Station, Texas, to get the training they need to save lives. The Texas A&M Engineering Service (TTEX) Emergency Services Training Institute (ESTI) is hosting the 33rd annual Spring Fire School this week.
This is the first time TEEX is hosting a training this size since March 2020. The school cancelled the rest of 2020's Fire Schools because of safety concerns due to the pandemic last May.
“It was a big and busy week for us, but after that point in time we shuttered our operations for a number of months," said Gordon Lohmeyer, the division director for TEEX-ESTI.
About 250 men and women have enrolled in school at the Brayton Fire Training Field, all with the same goal; develop and strengthen their skills to save lives.
Even as the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage on, emergency events still happen.
"Call volumes have been extremely high. It’s really stressed and taxed our emergency community," Lohmeyer said. "It’s imperative that our first responders be allowed to participate in a safe and controlled environment."
This week's classes consist of students that work in rural fire departments to large city departments to industrial facilities and more. They will learn and train in firefighting, responding to hazardous materials and rescue from 30 guest instructors.
Fire Marshal Eddie Lisi and his team from the South Texas Project (STP) Nuclear Operating Company in Wadsworth are part of this spring’s school. His team is referred to as Operations and they are the primary fire brigade who handle the nuclear plant's fires.
Training requirements for the brigade are annual.
Lisi has been to four fire schools around the country, he calls TEEX's training and facility one of the best.
“I know people that come from Tennessee or other places to receive this training because of the specialty that they have for industrial fire training," said Lisi.
While teams like Lisi’s are busy getting the training to keep others safe, TEEX is striving to keep each crew safe this week as well.
The school is still mandating face masks, daily health screenings, asks students to follow social distancing guidelines and maintain good personal hygiene.
"We want to make sure that anyone who comes to train with us goes home smarter and healthy," Lohmeyer said.