Created by the Legislature in April 1996, the Tennessee Fire Service and Codes Enforcement Academy (TFACA) holds the training of state firefighters and the testing and certification of codes enforcement officials as its primary objectives. The academy’s unique dual curriculum and state-of-the-art training facilities are also available to related industrial and commercial organizations as well as out-of-state customers, establishing it as a regional center for the delivery of a full spectrum of emergency service, codes enforcement and first responder development courses.
Prior of the TFACA’s establishment, the Tennessee State Fire School was located at the Tennessee Technological Training Center in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, with program instruction administered and funded by the Tennessee Board of Regents. Through frequent interaction with various fire service and codes enforcement management officials, the State Fire Marshal discovered a pressing need for a new state facility considering the limited availability of classrooms and outdated facilities of the former fire school.
An urgent demand for codes enforcement training also existed. In Tennessee, all fire and building inspectors as well as state codes personnel are required by stature to have state certification. State-sponsored training for codes enforcement officials was previously unavailable with the exception of a contracted seminar, which was costly and required extensive travel. Upon TFACA’s inception, the Department of Commerce and Insurance, which houses the State Fire Marshal’s Office, assumed responsibility for its management and its mission of administering training to the state’s fire service and codes enforcement professionals.
Construction of the 15-building campus began in August 1999, on 330 sprawling acres in rural northern Bedford County. Upon completion of the $27 million facility during the summer of 2001, the Tennessee State Fire School closed with operations; personnel and equipment transferred to the current academy.
Throughout the design and development of the academy, developers looked to the advice and counsel of a dedicated group of fire service and codes enforcement professionals. The product of that cooperation is a visionary multi-purpose training complex staffed by experienced fire service and codes enforcement personnel. The academy features modern classrooms with a supporting research library, a hands-on training center with specialized laboratories, a three-bay fire station for as many as 24 recruit firefighters and dedicated structures for realistic fire and codes training simulations. TFACA’s full-service campus also includes dormitory accommodations for 104 students, a 250-person dining facility and an administration building.
The Tennessee Fire Service and Codes Enforcement academy directly affects the welfare and safety of every Tennessean. According to data received from the National Fire Protection Association, Tennessee ranks one of the highest states’ in the Nation for fire related deaths and incurs hundreds of millions of dollars annually in property loss associated with fire. For this reason, the academy will look forward to expanding the original training mission to include specialized training to additional first responder agencies, including Homeland Security, law enforcement personnel and other related fields. The extensive course curriculum available at the academy, coupled with its authentic training scenarios, will help increase the life safety of Tennessee’s approximately 23,000 firefighters and 3,500 codes officials by providing an education unparalleled by any institution in the Nation.