MU Fire and Rescue Training Institute Annual Report 2021
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Greetings from Columbia and the University of Missouri. As the interim director for the MU Fire and Rescue Training Institute (MU FRTI), I hope that you find our annual report informational and it provides a better understanding of the breadth of the program. We also hope that this report will demonstrate MU FRTI’s contributions to the land grant mission of the university and the related impact that mission creates.
As the 2021 fiscal year (FY21) began, there remained many questions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Jurisdictional and university restrictions remained in place as the summer of 2020 moved into fall. MU FRTI continued to provide quality instruction to the fire service. Even though much of our time was spent pivoting to virtual courses, postponing those courses that were better in a face-to-face format, or ultimately canceling some courses, we continued to make the best of the situation.
COVID-19 continued to have an impact on funding from many different directions. The greatest impact for us came from reduced state and university funding. While the state reductions were reinstated the university funds remained lower. With the help of our funding partners, we increased some areas within our budget. The original plans for the Center of Excellence in First Responder Education (CEFRE) were tabled due to these funding concerns. As an organization, we needed to find a balance between potential income losses and continuing to provide needed quality education and training.
After minimizing courses during the first couple of months we were able to begin the rescheduling process. The constant during this time was recognizing that our annual Missouri Emergency Services Instructor Conference would still be held. While the numbers were lower than in past years the conference was a success. As the year moved forward an uptick in coronavirus cases around the state required our annual Winter Fire School (WFS) to be moved to a virtual format. That required moving some face-to-face classes to later dates. Again, we found that the Missouri fire service was ready and willing to attend quality training. Our numbers were once again, smaller than normal for WFS, but over 750 attendees received valuable training.
After moving through the winter we were able to offer many courses around the state. Many of the courses scheduled in the fall were now being offered throughout the state. I want to give a shout-out to our regional coordinators. They had to reschedule and schedule the training that is normally spread out over twelve months into approximately five months. I’d also like to recognize our faculty and staff. From the organizational side of these courses, the MU FRTI staff worked tirelessly to get the courses posted, supplies sent, registrations logged and credited, and the proper funding stream charged.
We are now hoping many of the COVID-19 restrictions are behind us. As cases continue to decline we are moving forward by planning face-to-face conferences, schools, and courses. Thus far in the 2022 fiscal year (FY22), the requests for training have been greater than in any year we can remember. The fire service understands the importance of continued training. We will continue to do everything we can to provide quality, life-saving training to the fire service.
I would also like to thank our partners who continue to recognize MU FRTI as a primary provider of first responder training. Those partners that provide funding do so knowing they are contributing to the health and safety of Missourians.
I’d finally like to thank our students. Your continued dedication and desire to serve your fellow citizens are inspiring. Your efforts are always appreciated. We strive to make sure our products are presented to help you do your job safer and more efficiently.
In presenting this annual report, we continue to demonstrate our role as the leader in fire and emergency services training and education statewide, as well as nationally. We are proud of our accomplishments over our history. As one of the oldest statewide training entities in the country, we continue to strive to rank high among all training organizations in courses delivered, student enrollments, and customer satisfaction.
On behalf of the faculty and staff of MU FRTI, I would once again like to thank each of you for your continued support. Since 1933, the University and the Institute have served first responders in Missouri and beyond, fulfilling our mission to take the knowledge and research from campus to provide education and training throughout the state, to better protect themselves and the citizens they serve.
Please feel free to contact the Institute if you have questions.