University Relations and Communications


November 20, 2017

 Fire Science students at City College


MSU Billings City College Receives International Accreditation for Fire Science Program



University Relations and Communications, (406) 657-2266


MSU BILLINGS NEWS SERVICES — The International Fire Service Accreditation Congress (IFSAC) recently granted full accreditation to the fire science program at City College at MSU Billings (MSUB). This is the first time the program has received accreditation since its inception.


Kelly McCoy accepts the IFSAC Certificate of AccreditationOf the approximately 220 fire science programs across the United States, only 30 are accredited by IFSAC. The accreditation process is demanding and not all agencies are prepared to complete the rigorous process. Faculty, staff, and the program overall conduct an internal self-study audit which is followed by a third party review. These stringent steps ensure that the program is meeting strict international standards determined by the accreditation congress.


This accreditation, valid for five years, ensures that the fire science program at City College is following best practices and offering quality education and training to future and existing firefighters. 


“Thirty to forty years ago the fire service had minimal pre-employment qualification associated with entry-level firefighter employment,” shared Paul Dextras, recently retired Billings Fire Department Chief and former adjunct instructor in fire science at City College. “In an effort to enhance the overall profession of the fire service, a concerted effort by fire service leaders to embrace education as well as experience for future candidates resulted in the development of a number of two-year fire science educational programs.”


“This recognition places the City College program among the best of the best and serves to distinguish not only the course content but also the quality and dedication of those involved in the presentation and accountability of the course material,” Dextras stated.


The demographics of students in City College fire sciences are unique when compared to other institution’s programs. Currently the nation’s fire service is comprised of 4 percent women and 96 percent men. At City College fire sciences, just over 50 percent of first-year students are women.


The program is open to all and run by Director Kelly McCoy who is also accredited as a Chief Training Officer (CTO) by the Center for Public Safety Excellence and has a master’s degree in education.  The accreditation process places emphasis on the competency of program instructors and the value they add to the program. McCoy has aspirations to prepare more women and minorities to be future firefighters ensuring greater representation in this field.


The City College fire science program includes general education classes as well as principles and theory in the fire service. In the program, students complete hands-on skills and training evolutions, preparing them to meet the changing demands of emergencies and be future leaders in the fire services field. 


The program also has a 2 + 2 option that few programs across the United States can match. Upon completion of the two-year Associate of Science in Fire Science, students can choose to continue on as a junior on MSUB’s university campus studying an additional two years to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree in Outdoor Adventure Leadership (OAL) with an emphasis on fire sciences.


OAL shares similarities to the fire science in that they both teach students how to work in stressful, high-risk, and low-frequency environments where teamwork, communication, leadership, and critical decision making are used in life or death situations  Pairing the two programs together provides a greater breadth of skills and more employment opportunities for students.


Adds Dean of MSU Billings City College Dr. Cliff Coppersmith, “The Fire Science program at City College at MSUB hopes to continue to grow and meet the needs of local and regional employers. In the meantime, the Certificate of Accreditation by IFSAC is a testament to the good work being done.”


For more information, contact Kelly McCoy at 247-3078,