Local College Educating Future Volunteer Firefighters

by Sarah Snyder
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND - Here's the problem. The oil boom, plus lots of fires, that equals a greater need for firefighters in West Texas.

It's an equation that Midland College is committed to solving.

The College is working with the Midland Fire Department to train new recruits who are ready and willing to take on a very dangerous job.

"There's always a need."

Midland College is training students for service as firefighters, administrators, and emergency management personnel.

"We see people are at their worst and they're very glad that we're there.  We show up and they're glad to see us.  That's very rewarding," Midland Fire Chief Russ Conley, said.

That type of service is just what Program Director, Ollie Oliver, has done. He served 23 years with the Midland Fire Department and was one of the first paramedics in town. Now, he is leading Midland College's growing Fire Protection and Technology Program.

"It's growing, it's continuing to grow.  The demand and the need is there," Oliver said.

Students have the opportunity to do more than just sit in the classroom. They get hands on training in the field with the Fire Department.

"When you become a firefighter, you're a part of something much larger than just being a firefighter in Midland, Texas.  You become apart of that firefighter brotherhood all over the world," Conley said.

The program takes two semesters, with 3 night classes and a Saturday class.

The College will soon begin offering online courses where participants can work as a firefighter or paramedic while doing the classwork portion through the Internet.

Those courses are expected to start this fall.