Butler Community College officially opened its new fire science facility Friday afternoon, inviting the public to a ribbon cutting ceremony.
“We couldn’t be any happier with our relationship with the city of El Dorado,” said Interim Butler President Karla Fisher. “Today is about this program. It can only exist and thrive with the great lead faculty.”
That faculty included Tony Yaghijan, program coordinator.
“This facility is phenomenal,” Yaghijan said.
He went on to introduce the other heads of the program in attendance, including, Jim Edwards, dean of Academic Studies for Nursing/Allied Health/Early Childhood Education.
He expressed his thanks to Edwards for his support of the program.
Also in attendance was Roberto Rodriguez, the dean of the Division of Career & Technical Education and Advanced Technology Center.
“He’s been very instrumental in what we do here and makes sure the program stays on track,” Yaghijan said.
Fire Marshall Joe Haag also was on hand for the event. He is one of the instructors as well.
“It’s through the cooperation with the city of El Dorado and fire department we have the program we have today,” Yaghijan said. “It’s exciting to have such a great administration to work with and work for.”
He also recognized Fisher, Trustee Candace Kunkel and City Manager Herb Llewellyn.
The Butler fire science residency program houses students in their half of the new facility. They are joined in the building by the new sub-station for the El Dorado Fire Department, with Butler being on the west end of the facility located on West Sixth Avenue.
“This is the only program in the state where it offers students on-the-job training,” Yaghijan said.
The program includes seven students in the residency portion, a program that started eight years ago.
“They are students by day and first responders when the pagers go off,” he said.
They also get to work alongside the El Dorado firefighters for five shifts a month as their training level allows.
Yaghijan said what they do there he called life learning.
“The unique thing about this type of program is these individuals grow up a lot faster than they probably should,” he continued. “These kids are learning how to save your life.”
He said they are the ones who respond when a person calls 911.
He also said they have some of the best instructors in the area, with 14 different instructors offering a well-rounded education on how things are done.
Page 2 of 2 - The fire science program has seen tremendous growth.
When it started there were seven students, then it went to 20 to 40 to 60 to 80.
“It just keeps multiplying,” Yaghijan said.
Haag addressed the group next.
He said this was the vision of two organizations who were thinking of the future of fire service and training.
“It’s quite a facility,” he said.
Following a ribbon cutting, guests were invited in to eat.