January 11, 2017
Paxton Densmore did not dream of growing up to become a firefighter.
But as a high school student in Van Vleck, Texas, on his way to rugby practice almost every day, he passed by a new fire house under construction. Over the course of a year, the prospect of becoming a firefighter grew brighter in his mind.
“Driving by the fire station got my wheels turning,” Densmore said. “I knew I wanted to do something to help people, and it looked like a really fun job.”
He has since turned that imagination to reality. Densmore graduated from Blinn College’s Fire Science Program in Bryan in May, and in August he was hired by the Richmond Fire Department in Fort Bend County.
While it marks just the beginning of his firefighting career, it validates the challenge he undertook when he enrolled in Blinn’s Fire Science Program, a unique partnership with the nation’s most comprehensive firefighter training and emergency services instruction entity, the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX). Through that partnership, Blinn offers a traditional 12-week fire academy, as well as an online academy in which course work is performed online and skills are developed during three months of intensive hands-on training at Brayton Fire Training Field.
Densmore earned his 60-credit hour Fire Science Technology Associate of Applied Science, which includes an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) Basic course, an EMT Paramedic Clinical, and the TEEX Fire Academy.
“The thing I liked most about Paxton was that he always was willing to help the other students,” said Nathan Sivils, Program Coordinator. “I remember one time, he was speaking with another student and encouraging him that he could pass a very tough exam and was willing to help him study. I had overheard the conversation, and it showed early on that he had leadership potential.”
Densmore was equally impressed by his Blinn instructors.
“CL Domel and Nathan Sivils were two of the greatest instructors I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with,” Densmore said. “They’re very helpful, very dedicated, and they put a lot of time into each of their students, not just because it’s a class they have to teach, but because what they do is a calling.”
Once Densmore completed the classroom portion, he spent three months at the TEEX Fire Academy. Each day consisted of 12-14 hours of training, beginning with physical training at 5 a.m. Students then moved into the classroom before gaining hands-on experience in the afternoon.
“It takes a lot of dedication to want to get up at 4:30 or 5 in the morning for three months straight, but it’s worth it,” Densmore said. “You have to skill these skills, not just because the book says so, but because they could save your life one day.”
In addition to the usual classroom instruction in fire protection, life safety and program management, the partnership between Blinn and TEEX allows Blinn fire science students to receive 12 weeks of practical training with firefighter props, equipment and apparatus with TEEX. The agreement also allows TEEX to offer college credit and financial aid to its fire academy students.
“You won’t find a fire school like this anywhere else,” Sivils said.
“It’s the best job in the world,” added Densmore. “There’s nothing like it.”
Blinn offers a 30-hour Fire Science Technology Certificate and a Fire Science Technology Associate of Applied Science degree. For more information, visit: www.blinn.edu/twe/fire/.