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Idaho State University, Chubbuck Fire Department launch distance education training for firefighters

January 31, 2011
ISU Marketing and Communications

In January, the Idaho State University Office of Workforce Training in partnership with the Chubbuck Fire Department and Chief Eric King successfully launched the first distance-education training to firefighters in the communities of Inkom, Chubbuck, American Falls, Rockland and Swan Valley over the Idaho Education Network.

Fire Chiefs Pete Williams of American Falls, Jeff Evans of Rockland and Dean Philbrick of Swan Valley worked with King and ISU Work Force Training to make it happen.

The training was made available through funding provided by the Susan Harwood grant recently awarded to the ISU College of Technology Office of Workforce Training.

"Our department and college are honored to be a recipient of this grant.  Colleges and universities from around the country submitted grant proposals and the Office of Workforce Training is one of 42 colleges to have their proposals funded," said Joseph Fleishman, director of Workforce Training.

The Idaho Education Network (IEN) is a statewide, high-speed, education network developed to connect each public high school with a scalable, high-bandwidth connection, including connections to institutions of higher education.

"The IEN affords the ISU College of Technology the ability to expand our non-credit workforce training state-wide," said Fleishman.  "This is a real positive for agencies such as our fire and police departments. During the next six months, the Office of Workforce Training will be developing a wide selection of free, safety-related training courses not only for Idaho firefighters, but also to local manufacturing sectors throughout the state."

"Coordinating the delivery of this state-of-the-art innovative training was a team effort," said Fleishman. "Kathy Hayes, Work Force Training assistant director, worked with Chief King to identify and hire local firefighters as new instructors.  Hayes also coordinated the use of their new IEN classrooms with Chad Williams from the Ririe school district and Dr. Ron Bolinger from American Falls."

Jeff Hough, business consultant for Work Force Training, collaborated with Nancy Caudillo, ISU College of Techology grants coordinator, to write the Susan Harwood grant proposal.  Hough also worked closely with Karine Aebi, Emergency Services Training coordinator for the Department of Professional Technical Education in Boise, as well as local fire departments to market and deliver this innovative educational programming. 

"We are pleased to be partnering with a private company, Web Impakt, in Idaho Falls," said Aaron Hillier, workforce training information technology project manager for the Virtual Safety Training Center Grant.  "Web-Impakt wrote the programming, which links our Web page, registration system and instructional delivery system all together."

"So far the system is working exactly as we designed it to; our first class started without a hitch," said Fleishman. "Twenty-five fire fighters, currently in eastern Idaho, can experience the training live. This live training is then stored digitally in our Alexandra Library of Digital Programming and made available over the web to all fire fighters state-wide at no cost. In addition to receiving free on-line programming, all students will have access to on line testing which prepares them to complete the national firefighter exams successfully.

"Ultimately, our goals are to provide the state with both a registration system that tracks the academic performance of all fire fighters, real-time, as they progress through their training, as well as to provide a wide variety of high-quality, web-based training programs free of charge to all firefighters in the convenience of their homes or fire departments," said Fleishman.

ISU Workforce Training will continue to work with Brady Kraft, IEN technical director and Gary Lough, IEN communications director, to expand non-credit educational programming to all schools throughout the state as they come on-line with the IEN.

"This is a very exciting time to be a part of the College of Technology at Idaho State University," said Fleishman, "With the support and encouragement of Marilyn Davis, dean of the College of Technology, we are modeling for the rest of the country how to use technology to provide high-quality, accessible and affordable education. What the College of Technology is doing is quite simply innovation at it best."

For more information on our firefighter and manufacturing safety training, call 208-282-3372 or go on-line at workforcetraining.isu.edu.


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