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History of the Texas A&M Fire School

Texas A& M Fire School History


State Firemen and Fire Marshals' Association selects Texas A&M as the site for a firemen's training program, primarily for volunteer fire departments. Texas A&M College Officials, Dr. T.O. Walton and Dr. F.C. Hedges established the school and assigned the function to the Chemistry Department. Professor Harold R. Brayton was the first Director.

196 firefighters representing 76 Texas cities and towns attend the first annual school, two days of drills and ground practice. The first school was the combined efforts of the SFFMA, the College, and the City of Bryan Fire Department.  Fire Chiefs from several large cities of the state were the instructors.


Texas Legislature authorizes an annual training school by passing House Bill No. 921. The bill authorized and directed the Board of Directors of A&M College to create and operate a firemen’s training school as part of the college, providing for the creation of a Board to advise in the conducting of the school and make appropriations for the operations of the school. The bill outlined the duties and responsibilities of the Advisory Board. The First Advisory Board



1930-1947 An annual one week training school was conducted by the Chemistry Department under the supervision of Professor Brayton.



Professor Brayton served as head of the fire school from its inception until World War II, when he was recalled to military service. During the interim, Dr. C.C. Hedges assumed responsibilities for the school as Director. Upon Brayton’s return and the merger with the Industrial Extension Service Brayton took leave from his teaching duties and was appointed Director of the school until he left in 1955 to serve with Executive Department of the State of Texas, Division of Defense and Disaster Relief.

The Texas Firemen's Training School is created when the Texas A&M annual on-site school merges with the Industrial Extension Service programs that train firemen across Texas. Training is held on campus and at Hensel Park just north of campus. Chief Frank Williams left the group to become the State Firemen’s Pension Commissioner. L.O. Bynum was hired in addition to A. L Cartwright. The staff also included Chiefs Otis Muenster, James R. Dobson and Paul R. Williams.


The Industrial Extension Service becomes part of the new Engineering Extension Service.




Williams and Cartwright resigned and were replaced by E.W. Parker, and Henry D. Smith. A new position was accepted by Joe Fogley.



A class was added for training in areas of Industrial Fire Protection. One day of class was recessed to visit the fire field to observe municipal fire fighters in action.


Henry Smith is appointed Acting Chief of the Firemen’s Training School.




After Colonel H. R. Brayton’s death in January, Henry D. Smith was appointed Chief of the program.


Brayton Field is established on 26 acres west of campus as the University expands to become Texas A&M University.


Industrial School established. Growth and success of the school contributed to the generous support and assistance of equipment manufacturers, distributors, sales representatives, and industry supporters. Hundreds of representatives from organizations donated their professional time and talent and have donated equipment to help the school continue to succeed. Municipalities, industry, and the armed forces have contributed to the growth of the school.



School expanded to include a second week. Total attendance of students was 104.



Spanish School established. By 1971, there was a total attendance of 208 students from 66 cities and towns from Spanish speaking countries.



The Recruit Training Program and Annual Municipal Inspection Training School are established.



Brayton Field is expanded to 62 acres and included advanced fuel storage, pipelines and advanced water reservoirs, communication equipment and lights. Through the efforts of Henry D. Smith, the Firemen’s Training School Advisory Board and the officers and members of the State Firemen’s and Fire Marshals’ Association of Texas, the field was expanded. Nearly 3.6 million dollars on equipment and training facilities was invested.




Basic Marine Firefighting and Emergency Training course is added.


Brayton Field nearly doubles in size with the addition of 60 acres.


Charles L. Page is appointed division head.



Brayton Field undergoes $250,000 in renovations and new construction, including a rescue tower, classroom computer graphics system and multi-level chemical complex.

Charles L. Page retires and Dr. G. Kemble Bennett, director of the Texas Engineering Extension Service, is named interim head. His connections at the state and national level help the Division expand its focus from firefighter training to include other emergency response professions, paving the way to become the Emergency Services Training Institute in 2000.



Rick L. Tye is appointed division head.


U.S. Department of Justice establishes the National Emergency Response and Rescue Training Center, to train emergency responders to respond to nuclear, biological or chemical attacks by terrorists. Construction begins on a $70 million "Disaster City" and Emergency Operations Training Center adjacent to Brayton Field.



Texas Task Force 1 is established as the first statewide Urban Search and Rescue Team. The team comprises 186 emergency services personnel from 48 organizations, divided into three 62-member teams. A $2 million cache of equipment is maintained at Brayton Field.



The Fire Protection Training Division becomes the Emergency Services Training Institute (ESTI).

The Center for Marine Training and Safety in Galveston becomes part of ESTI.

ESTI is accredited under the National Professional Qualifications System (Pro Board).

Texas Task Force 1 is named a FEMA team.


Chief Les Bunte is appointed division head.

The American Council on Education reviews and approves several ESTI courses for college credit equivalency.



The annual Municipal Fire Training School celebrates its 75th anniversary.



World renowned for its hands-on, customized training, the Texas Engineering Extension Service offers a wide range of technical, skills training programs aimed at employed workers and those entering the labor force. During its fiscal year 2007, TEEX provided training and technical assistance to more than 204,000 people from all 50 states, five U.S. territories, the District of Columbia and 54 countries in over 8,300 deliveries conducted across the nation and world.

TEEX is a member of The Texas A&M University System, one of the largest and most complex systems of higher education in the United States. Through a statewide network of nine university campuses, seven state agencies and a comprehensive health science center, the A&M System educates nearly 100,000 students, conducts more than $500 million in research and reaches another 11 million people through service each year.



For more information, call 409-845-7641 or write the Fire Protection Training Division, Texas Engineering Extension Service, The Texas A&M University System, College Station, Texas 77843-8000


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