Montana State University
Firefighters working

Agency Profile

The Fire Services Training School (FSTS) is the state level agency charged with providing professional development for community fire and rescue services. For administrative purposes, the FSTS is attached to the Extension Service of Montana State University.

Purpose

The objectives of FSTS as specified in Section 20-31-103 MCA are to:

1. Provide fire service personnel with professional training
2. Identify new methods of fire prevention and suppression and disseminate information about them
3. Provide a resource center for use by local fire services
4. Provide testing and certification for personnel and apparatus
5. Coordinate fire services training in the state.

Mission
The mission of the FSTS is to build capacity in local governments for protecting the life safety of citizens, their property, the tax base and infrastructure from harm caused by unwanted fires, accidents, injuries, hazardous materials incidents and other emergencies.

Scope of Services and Philosophy
The FSTS serves all of Montana’s fire departments, companies and districts. This audience consists of an estimated 11,000 members in 467 fire companies, 96% of which are volunteers. The FSTS develops and operates programs which make local government effective in their mission of providing quality fire and rescue service to the public. FSTS supports and promotes:

(a) “standard of care” operations,
(b) self-sustained training programs within local organizations,
(c) sharing of resources between organizations, and
(d) individual growth of emergency service personnel through training.

Facilities
FSTS offices are now located in the Wheat Building, 750 6th Street Southwest, Great Falls, Montana. However, FSTS operates all over the state, utilizing the facilities, apparatus, and equipment of community fire services when providing training services. FSTS trainers are strategically located in Great Falls, Billings, Helena, Bozeman, Kalispell, Huson and Wolf Point. FSTS operates several mobile training props, all dedicated fire training structures are owned by communities.

Advisory Council
FSTS works closely with its Advisory Council which is appointed by the Board of Regents. The Council is very active in providing direction for the School’s programs, and its members are also involved in leadership roles with other organizations.

Services Provided by the Fire Services Training School

Curriculum Development

FSTS has developed an innovative approach for training fire fighters which has received national acclaim. The program is gaining popularity and was especially designed to meet the needs of Montana’s fire services. Additional levels are under development, as well as revisions to existing units.

Professional Certification

FSTS offers a testing program which recognizes demonstrated professional competence. Fire service personnel are tested against standards for various levels and specialties and recognized with a certificate for success. The program is accredited by the International Fire Service Accreditation Congress and the National Board for Fire Service Professional Qualifications.

Mobile Training Labs

FSTS also operates a number of mobile training props. A confined space prop has been constructed in a trailer and is used by trainers to teach confined space techniques. A FLAG (Flammable Liquid and Gas) trailer provides learners with hands-on training in the danger of flammable gases and liquids. A burn trailer gives fire fighters the opportunity to fight a simulated fire. Props are rotated between fire companies who request them and trainers are assigned when necessary. When local trainers are well versed in prop operations and safety concerns, the props are made available to them without an FSTS trainer.

Coaches Network

FSTS identifies and trains experienced fire fighters to be coaches. These individuals then train personnel within their own or other departments. Coaches make major contributions to the development of training materials and provide instruction at agency sponsored courses.

National Fire Academy/FSTS Partnership

FSTS operates in partnership with the National Fire Academy to bring NFA Courses to Montana. Each year, nine courses are delivered utilizing NFA instructors from all over the United States.