|Pictured from left to right are MC employees: Grants Development Specialist Annie Stanger, Fire Science Technology Program Director Mark Kuhn and Executive Director of the MC Foundation Erin Tresner|
Dean of Community Relations & Special Events
Just east of the Midland City Limits sign on Farm-to-Market Road 307 lies the Harris Field Fire Training Facility owned by the Midland Fire Department (MFD). It is in this location where Midland’s heroic firefighters brush up on those essential skills that citizens depend upon in times of emergency. This is also the place where Midland College trains students who have heard the call to protect and serve their community through firefighting and first responder duties.
Now, thanks to an anonymous donation made to the Midland College Foundation, the MC Fire Science Technology program will be able to have a dedicated building for its Firefighter Academy. The two-semester program prepares students to take the state certification exam for certified firefighters, of which MC proudly boasts a 100 percent pass rate.
The planned 2,400-square-foot building will be located at the MFD’s Harris Training Facility and will include a 25-seat classroom, two engine bays, men’s and women’s locker rooms, a kitchen and offices. Program Director Mark Kuhn estimates that construction will cost approximately $200,000 and will begin in late spring.
“The Midland Fire Department has been very gracious in allowing us to use their facilities for our Firefighter Academy, and we will continue to use the MFD’s outdoor equipment for those skills,” said Kuhn. “However, it will be nice to have dedicated training space located at the drill field. We plan to create an environment that will resemble real-life work experiences.”
Currently, MC’s Firefighter Academy classes are held on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings from 6:00-10:00 p.m. and all day on Saturday. Kuhn said that the evening and Saturday class schedule allows for students to work during the day and reported that his students work in industries from retail to the oilfield, but all have a dream of one day becoming a firefighter.
“Our students range in age from 18 to 30, mostly men, but occasionally we get some women,” stated Kuhn. “In every class, there are usually two to three military veterans. The vets are great students. Some of them have had firefighter training in the military. This is a disciplined profession, and the former military students definitely know what that’s like! They also tend to be extremely focused.”
Mark Kuhn has been the full-time director of MC’s Fire Science Technology Program since 2009. For several years prior, he was as an adjunct instructor in the department. Most recently, before joining MC as program director, he served as a safety consultant in Saudi Arabia providing training for a new electrical power plant. A native of West Texas, Kuhn graduated from high school in Grandfalls and holds an Associate of Science degree from MC. He also has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Southeastern Louisiana University.
Last year, Kuhn was instrumental in obtaining a used fire engine for MC’s Firefighter Academy. One of the uses of the new training facility will be to provide a shelter for the truck that will simulate the engine bays used in city fire stations.
“This new building will supply so many added benefits to our program,” stated Kuhn. “There is an excellent job market out there for firefighters, and I thank the generous donor and the MC Foundation for allowing us to improve our facilities so that we can continue to train young people for this noble profession.”