- About FPST
- Graduate Program
1931 Oklahoma A&M College (OAMC) took over the annual fire school and assigned to the Department of Vocational Education. Blackwell Fire Chief John E. Taplin wrote a booklet titled The Essentials of Firemanship.
1932 Control of the annual fire school shifted to the OAMC College of Engineering.
1934 The first mimeographed book, An Introductory Course, was published.
1937 Through the efforts of Chief Pence, Heisler, and OAMC President Henry Bennett, The School of Fire Protection opened. It was a two-year A.S. degree program. The initial class had 5 students and no facilities. Everett Hudiburg was the first instructor.
1938 The first part of the Campus Fire Station was constructed and ready for the students in the Fall. 12 students were enrolled and an approved curriculum was in place. Hired to head the degree program was R. J. Douglas who held a Master’s in Chemistry from UWV; also had been a high school teacher, football coach and volunteer fire chief in Morefield, WV. He remained head of the school, except for a brief period during WWII, until his sudden death in 1962.
1939 The Remainder of CFS and drill tower was built by the college, with help from the Works Projects Administration in 1939. Douglas taught academics; Pence provided practical training. Students rose for roll call every morning at 0600 hours. Students could not leave classes for fires and were on duty every 4th night. Students had to be in the station by 2230 hours every night. Fire Protection Society Emerges: Stillwater Fireman’s Club formed to hire a cook and buy food for meals at CFS. Hell (Help, Rookie) Week started in order to teach new students their duties.
The World War II Years: Enrollment drops; Douglas laid off. Douglas served as fire marshal at Beech Aircraft in Wichita. Hudiburg served as chief instructor.
1945 The NFPA Chief Engineer Horatio Bond first dubs the school “The West Point of the Fire Service.”
1945 Chief Pence Died Suddenly: found dead in his bed on the 2nd floor of the CFS in January 1945. He was noted by the Oklahoma Legislature as “the founding and guiding light of the West Point of the Fire Service.” Hudiburg become new fire chief. In September, R. J. Douglas returned to OAMC to head the department. The department was accredited in 1949.
1952 Student Firefighter Dies in the Line of Duty: Student Firefighter James Bergstrand died at a brush fire on November 6, 1952. The fire was in the area of the old Stillwater hatchery on East 6th St. (across from Freddie Paul’s Steakhouse). He had become entangled in a hose and was drug through the fire.
1954 Adopted the Pistol Pete on the Soda Acid Extinguisher Logo (by Dede Bachtler).
1955 Heisler Retires is remembered as the “Will Rogers of the fire service.” He felt people not only needed to know what to do, but why they are doing it. Hudiburg retired from the SFD and assumed Heisler’s position.
1957 The Big Name Change: Oklahoma Agricultural & Mechanical College (OAMC) was renamed Oklahoma State University (OSU). The mascot/nickname changed from Tigers to Cowboys.
1962 R. J. Douglas Died Unexpectedly: He suffered a heart attack on January 22. He was remembered by Dr. John Bryan (OSU alum who founded the FPE degree program at Maryland) as a person who always looked for a better solution and not to blindly accept the traditional concepts of the fire service.
1970s Programs Separate: FST and FPP (IFSTA) are formally separated from the School of Fire Protection and moved to Q-2, which is now the stadium lower-level ramp north of the ATRC. Harold Mace was brought in to lead FST and FPP in 1969 and would serve until 1992. He also became the head of the school from 1986 until 1992.
1972 The Degree Program was expanded to offer a B.S. in Fire Protection and Safety Engineering Technology. Dale Janes was brought in to build the program and the A.S. degree in Fire Protection was still available until the late 1980’s.
FPP Asst. Director Nancy Trench was the first female B.S. degree graduate.
1977 The Degree Program received ABET accreditation.
1984 Carole Ares was the first female live-in student firefighter.
1998 Tom Woodford was appointed as department head.
2003 New FPST lab opened, which is the first major FPST building project over 60 years. The lab houses fire pump, sprinkler, fire behavior, hygiene, and fire alarms labs.
2005 The program moved out of the campus fire station to Cordell south building.
2007 Dr. Mike Larranaga was appointed as department head.
2010 Pat Brock and Jim Hanson retired in 2010. JD Brown retired in 2012.
2011 The “2+2” exchange program in fire protection engineering between OSU and Southwest Jiaotong University was established. More international activities begun.
2014 Dr. Sam Wang was appointed as department head.
2016 The program was expanded to seven full-time faculty with nearly 400 students enrollment. The graduate program in Fire Safety and Explosion Protection was approved by the Oklahoma A&M Board of Regents and State Regents.
2017 The “3+1” joint degree program in fire protection and safety engineering between OSU and Southwest Jiaotong University was approved. The department moved to Engineering North building.
Evolution of Names
1937-1948: Dept. of Firemanship Training
1949-1956: Dept. of Fire Protection
1957-1972: Dept. of Fire Protection Technology
1973-2013: Dept. of Fire Protection and Safety Technology. Course Prefixes changed from FIRET to FPST in 1999.
2013-Present: Dept. of Fire Protection and Safety Engineering Technology
Evolution of Leadership
R. J. Douglas – 1938 to 1943, 1946 to 1962
Everett Hudiburg – 1943 to 1946
Elmer Johnson – 1962 to 1966
Kurt Barker – 1966
John F. Shreve – 1966 to 1968
David Ballenger – 1968 to 1970
Dale F. Janes – 1970 to 1980
Larry Borgelt – 1980 to 1985
Harold Mace – 1986 to 1992
Marvin Smith (acting) – 1992 to 1993
J. D. Brown (acting) – 1993 to 1998, 2005 to 2007
Tom Woodford – 1998 to 2005
Dr. Michael Larranaga – 2007 to 2014
Dr. Sam Wang – 2014 to 2018
Prof. Virginia Charter – 2018 to present
All-class reunions are held every five years on years that end in “0” and “5”. The reunions are held over the first weekend in July in Stillwater and include an opening session, picnics, and dinner/dance. The reunion helps to raise funds for the Foundation account.