After a particularly large and somewhat dangerous fire at the Vail maintenance building in the late 70’s, those of us volunteering for the fire department thought we might need more training. Steadfast in our conviction, we went to the CMC A-frame by Gore Creek between Vail and Lionshead and worked together to start a fire science degree program.
It seemed like a good idea at the time as we had enough advanced degrees in our ranks that we could teach classes as well as attend others. Collectively we could learn to be better firefighters and get an associate degree in the process. Pretty straightforward from our point of view, after all - we were firefighters and we had a training room in the firehouse. Administratively however, it was a laborious process of applications, paperwork, credentialing and more paperwork.
Ironically, most of the early fire science archives were lost to water damage. Remember, the CMC A-Frame building was next to the creek, a creek prone to spring runoff. Early on, the joke was that it took 4 years for a BA and 11 years for an AAS from CMC, especially if your records were “displaced”.
To everyone’s credit - literally, and in CMC’s tradition of truly helping students, firefighters who had lost their paperwork were allowed to test out of most courses they had previously taken in route to their degree.
What we learned in the college-level fire science program was invaluable. Everyone associated with its initial inception benefited from what is today an important program to firefighters and their communities throughout the region and beyond. What is true for the fire service, as in most disciplines - education is critical to advancing endeavor.
From those early days at the A-frame, CMC has always supported the first responder with a commitment to education. And now even more with the advent of the Starting Hearts First Responder Scholarship Program – “first on scene and first in our hearts.”