KC Fire Academy graduated 18 students during its 100th graduation celebrated Wednesday, March 29. The ceremony was preceded by a reception hosted for all former KC Fire Academy students, instructors and members of the previous 100 classes. About 60 people attended, including a firefighter musical ensemble.
The former students, many who now hold jobs as firefighters and their instructors, enjoyed reminiscing about how the Academy has progressed since its beginnings in the late ‘80s. The KC Fire Academy was first started in August 1989 by Dennis Cage (retired Kilgore Fire Chief), Leon Glass (former chief of Longview Fire Department) the late Ronnie Moore, and the late David Buress. The Academy had 22 students in its first class. Around 1995, it expanded and began accepting students from Canada.
Of this class’ graduates, seven were from Canada. One of the students, Andrew Pike, from Yukon, Canada, talked about how expensive attending a fire academy up north, although he hopes to return home and find a fire-fighting job there.
During the reception, current lead instructor, Mike Fennell was presented with an award from Harleton Fire Department honoring him for the contributions he has made to the KC Fire Academy. Fennell said it was important to remember where the Academy came from since its humble beginnings in 1989, and to remember where they were and where they are going.
“Kilgore College Fire Academy has a rich, deep-seated tradition in the fire service. And we want to carry that on,” he said.
The academy is recognized as one of the top fire academies in the country and they have had students from all over the world come to the academy, he added.
“We’ve had students come from Canada, Guam, South America, the Bahamas, Europe, the Middle East,” Fennell said.
Ricky Lasky, an emergency services consultant, motivational speaker and former chief of the Lewisville Fire Department gave a speech at the graduation ceremony. Lasky talked about the reputation of the Academy being one of the best in the nation.
“They teach with passion here,” he said. “It’s all about being a public servant; it’s all about the higher cause, the higher purpose.” Lasky said. His speech embraced the intensity and quality of training KC academy provides. Lasky said so many community colleges and fire departments offer fire training programs but KC fire academy was outstanding.
The KC Fire Academy is recognized by the state as an impeccable program and it is accredited by the Texas Commission on Fire Protection and the State Firefighters and Fire Marshals Association. KC fire academy offers three or four classes per year. They have a limit of 25 students per class. The classes last about 12 weeks.