In wake of Beryl, TEEX welcomes Texas firefighters for 95th Municipal Fire Training School


Situated in the trees surrounding Easterwood Airport lies a metaphorical playground for firefighters and search and rescue professionals.

Spread across 300 acres, the Brayton Fire Training Field features a range of structures for simulated firefighting activities, from warehouses to apartments to parking garages and marine ships. There are rescue exercises for a wide range of rescue scenarios, including water and chemical tanks, rubble piles, silos, trains, buses and cars.

Students can practice rappelling for rope rescues and helicopter and crane operations. A mock emergency room and Hazmat area is on site for training. There’s also a literal playground used as a canine agility course.

The facility is in full use this week as Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) kicked off its 95th annual Municipal Fire Training School, hosting more than 800 students. The school is the largest of its kind in the world as firefighters and emergency personnel gain valuable lifesaving experience from over 250 volunteer instructors.

People are also reading…

“This place is not replicated anywhere else in the United States,” said Chris Angerer, TEEX division director of fire and emergency services. “What we can say here is we have great curriculum, we have great instructors — we have great guest instructors that come here to be a part of this and they want to be here.”

WATCH: Texas A&M TEEX public demonstration (2023)

As Tropical Storm Beryl tore through Houston and southeast Texas on Monday with a trail of damage from heavy rainfall and intense winds, municipal and volunteer firefighters from across the state descended on College Station to learn skills to protect their communities’ people and property.

“Responders have to have very, very good training, have to have those repetitions in order to get better at what they do,” Angerer said. “That way, when they go out there, they are supremely competent to be able to do their job and to take care of the public. That’s why we do this each and every day.”

The school offers over 25 courses in fire, rescue and emergency services, such as emergency telecommunications, automobile extrication, rope rescue and wildland firefighting. The curriculum is a mix between work in the classroom as well as hands-on drills and experiences.

“What it says is that we’ve gained a valuable reputation that we’re going to give people a quality product when they get here,” Angerer said. “They’re going to be able to take something back to their home jurisdiction and be able to help the population, the citizens in their jurisdiction and they’re going to see the effects of that as well.”


Firefighters extinguish a fire during the 95th annual Municipal Fire Training School at Brayton Fire Training Field in College Station on Tuesday.

Meredith Seaver

The annual Fire Training School is followed by next week’s Industrial Fire Training School for professionals in industrial environments and plants. Angerer said the planning for next year’s programs begins immediately afterward as the year-round process resets.

“In January, what we’ll do is we’ll bring these guest instructors back to the senior leadership team,” Angerer said. “They will come back here for what we call our planning conference and what we will do is we will take ideas that they’ve been working on all throughout the late summer and into the fall and we will codify those things to start preparing for the actual event that’s going to happen in July.”

Brad Britten is the regional training coordinator for TEEX Region 5 in the Texas Panhandle and works with firefighters and first responders across the state. He said the destruction and loss of life caused by Beryl goes to show the importance of having emergency personnel that are well-prepared to help their communities in times of need.

“We want to make sure that our emergency responders in the state of Texas are trained and qualified and equipped to do the job every day,” Britten said. “It’s imperative that they understand the roles and responsibilities and they’re ready to do that job at a moment’s notice.”

After attending the Fire Training School as a student in years’ past, Britten returned to the program as a guest instructor. He said there’s a sense of gratification to guide future safety professionals who can be depended on.

“I’m very happy to be a part of it,” Britten said. “It’s very rewarding to be here to give back to the firefighters that are coming here to be trained to do jobs that are going to be tough on days like [Monday] vs. days like tomorrow or today.”


Firefighters extinguish a fire during the 95th annual Municipal Fire Training School at Brayton Fire Training Field in College Station on Tuesday.

Meredith Seaver

In the years since his time as a student, Britten said the firefighting industry has seen considerable development with the introduction of new technologies and equipment. He said TEEX has done a good job keeping up with such advancements so students receive the best training possible.

“The technology change on the field, the facility change on the field has been astronomical in the last 20, 25 years,” Britten said. “Definitely something cool to watch over the next several years and [I’m] just looking forward to the enhancement of the programs.”

Jacob Clifton is fire chief of the Skellytown Volunteer Fire Department, located 50 miles northwest of Amarillo. This year, he made his fourth trip to the Fire Training School as a student and is taking part in the Incident Safety Officer program.

“There’s no other experience like municipal school here at TEEX,” Clifton said. “People are our most important asset. We’ve got to take care of them, learning how to operate more safely and efficiently and taking care of business.”

TEEX Fire and Emergency Services Division Director Gordon Lohmeyer explains the purpose of TEEX in July 2023 at the 94th annual Municipal Fire Training School.

Clifton said one of the benefits of attending training is the ability to network with other firefighters across the state to share ideas and experiences. He added that the practical training offered to students allows them to be prepared when true emergencies arise and know how to handle them.

“Everybody has the same problems, and you want [to know] different ways that people are coping and dealing with those, so it’s just another tool in the toolbox to be successful,” Clifton said. “Hands-on training is important. You get to do it in a controlled environment compared to your first time being in a real emergency. We’ve been there and we’ve done that in a similar capacity.”

The Fire Training School is key to professional development and career advancement, with preparation for students involving studying and being a good student, Clifton said.

“It’s the opportunity for certification, to be able to start that and get some different training opportunities that aren’t readily available and free for volunteers up in the Panhandle,” Clifton said.

TEEX will offer a free public firefighting demonstration at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Brayton Fire Training Field with full-scale, live-fire training props. Loose clothing and closed-toe shoes are required and water stations will be available. Parking is free and gates open at 6:30 p.m. It will be livestreamed on the TEEX Fire and Emergency Services Facebook page.

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.