Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service cancels in-person Spanish Fire School

Published: Jun. 21, 2022 at 4:49 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 21, 2022 at 6:03 PM CDT
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COLLEGE STATION, Texas (KBTX) - An important event for first responders is scaling back this year. Texas A&M Extension Service (TEEX) announced their Spanish Fire School will no longer be happening in-person.

The loss of this year’s Spanish Fire School is a disappointment for TEEX as well as tourism officials.

The school not only provides valuable training to firefighters, but also brings big money to the area. Sign-ups for the 56th annual Spanish Fire School have been down this year and since registration did not meet the minimums for safe and effective delivery, the in-person training was canceled. Instead, they will have five online courses.

“It is unfortunate and I think that that’s something that we look forward to hosting them every year. And right now international travel is just difficult and these events, they are planned months and sometimes even years out and up until a few weeks ago we actually still had a COVID test restriction to come into the country,” said Jeremiah Cook, Visit College Station Tourism Manager.

Every year firefighters from more than 20 Latin American countries work on their firefighting skills at the annual Spanish Fire School in College Station.

“As we got closer to the date our school registration numbers just weren’t there. I mean we were in the mid 50′s on the face to face registration and that school is typically 500 to 600 to 700 students certain years, so the numbers just weren’t there,” said Gordon Lohmeyer, Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service Division Director.

He said travel is still difficult and expensive for firefighters coming from other countries.

“It’s more difficult to obtain visas, U.S. Embassies were closed for many months in a row and then economic downturn globally so it makes it more expensive to travel,” Lohmeyer said.

The fire schools bring in thousands of people every summer. While Visit College Station says it’s unfortunate the Spanish Fire School won’t be coming, they expect summer visitation overall to be up with sports tourism and events.

“Last year we expected about 35,000 visitors to come to town over June, July and August. This year we’re expecting 50,000 so pretty sizable increase and we’re really excited about that,” said Cook.

TEEX leadership added that enrollment is looking good for industrial and municipal schools.

“This week we surpassed the total enrollment of last year’s industrial school so the school for sure is going to be bigger. Municipal school is continuing to gain in enrollment,” said Lohmeyer.

Industrial Week starts July 17. A public demonstration for Municipal Fire School is still scheduled for the night of Wednesday, July 27.

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