IFSI has worked with the National Fire Academy (NFA) to strengthen our relationship and to provide more access to NFA classes by Illinois firefighters. This has taken several forms.
We have streamlined the registration process for the Volunteer Incentive Program (VIP). This program provides opportunities for volunteer fire officers to attend classes at the NFA in Emmitsburg, Maryland, wtih the majority of the costs paid for by the Federal government. Qualified students can apply directly to the NFA, rather than having to send paperwork through IFSI. The NFA reports back to IFSI after the completion of classes.
Illinois is allowed to request nine NFA direct-delivered classes each year. These classes are hosted around the state by way of a request and partnership with fire departments. These are delivered by NFA contract instructors.
IFSI provides a number of NFA two-day courses, under a grant, at no cost to fire departments. These “hand-off” courses use NFA curriculum, but are taught by IFSI instructors.
The Illinois Fire Service Institute participates in the NFA “Endorsement” program. We currently have more of our courses “endorsed” than any other state. The endorsements came about because the NFA recognized that some state training agencies already provide top quality courses. Under this program, state training agencies can submit their own courses to an NFA review committee. The program also provides a mechanism for state training agencies to share materials with other state training agencies. Students who take these approved courses receive a joint certificate bearing both the IFSI and NFA seals.
IFSI participates in the NFA’s Fire and Emergency Services Higher Education Conference each year. This conference brings together representatives from universities, community colleges, state fire training, fire departments, the NFA and others. We are working with the NFA in formulating a true higher education upper level degree process, and a university level research mechanism and relationships for the fire service. These really do not currently exist in this country.
The National Fire Academy is limited by bed space and other constraints to 5,000 students on campus per year. They recognize that this does not begin to meet the needs of the nation’s fire service. Thus, the NFA is looking for more effective ways to reach larger numbers of students. They decided several years ago to use the state training agencies as the best mechanism to do this. IFSI is working with the NFA and other state training agencies to make top quality training and education as accessible as possible to the nation’s firefighters, and to promote true higher education and research.