Local agencies join forces to form a new firefighter training academy in El Paso County

Courtesy of Monument Fire District
Ribbon cutting for new fire fighting training academy with Pikes Peak State College, Black Forest Fire Rescue and Monument Fire District.

A new firefighting academy is coming to the Pikes Peak region. The joint effort involves a partnership between Pikes Peak State College, Black Forest Fire Rescue and the Monument Fire District.

“The idea has been there for many, many years," said Jamie Gutschick, co-chair of the Fire & Science Technology program at the school. "And it just took a little bit of a nudge to get this ball rolling with coordinating efforts between the fire science program at Pikes Peak State and county agencies in El Paso County."

The inaugural class gets underway in mid-January. The initial roster will consist of 18 students, many of whom are new hires from the Black Forest and Monument agencies. The first class will also have several students unaffiliated with either fire department.

Jonathan Bradley, Division Chief of Operations with the Monument Fire District, said that's one of the benefits. "You may have students who are unaffiliated, meaning they are not employees of the fire department, who have an opportunity to apply to be a part of this and attend this academy.”

Station 1 with the Black Forest Fire Rescue will be the main site for the academy, although other sites may also be utilized.

The 16-week, 640-hour course is college-accredited and a full-time endeavor, with cadets expected to put in 40 hours per week. Classroom instruction and hands-on training will be a part of the curriculum. 

Although firefighter training is the focus of the academy, those who complete the course could also be eligible for other career opportunities such as a paramedic, fire safety inspector, or investigator.

Students who graduate will receive several state-sanctioned certificates and a national rating for wildland firefighting that’s recognized by the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management.