Karine Johnson has been appointed as program director of Fire Service Training (FST), effective April 18, 2022. Johnson has more than 20 years of experience in fire service in positions including firefighter, deputy state fire marshal, and deputy fire chief. In addition, she served as program manager for FST when it was previously housed at the Idaho Division of Career Technical Education (IDCTE) and has spent many years working as an instructor and evaluator.
Johnson holds an associate degree in engineering technology from Oregon Polytechnic Institute, an associate degree in fire service technology from Boise State University, and a dual-emphasis bachelor’s degree in fire service technology and communication and management from Boise State University. In addition, Johnson is a certified fire investigator. Johnson has been helping to transfer International Fire Service Accreditation Congress (IFSAC) accreditation from the College of Eastern Idaho, where the program was previously housed, and ensure the continuation of services since mid-December.
“Her multi-faceted experience in all aspects of the fire service, including training and certification in both career and volunteer capacities, means she understands the needs and demands of the fire community,” said Clay Long, state administrator for IDCTE. “Karine has also taken the initiative to improve the certificate and certification issuing process.”
Jerry Holenbeck, FST advisory council chairman and fire operations division chief with the Idaho National Laboratory, echoes Long’s sentiments on Johnson’s appointment.
“Karine has a passion for the fire service. I know she’ll listen to the fire chiefs and work with us to improve and simplify processes,” said Holenbeck. “Ultimately, this collaboration will mean we’re better able to turn out trained, qualified firefighters to protect and serve our communities.”
During the State Board of Education’s Aug. 26, board meeting, Idaho Division of Career Technical Education (IDCTE) State Administrator Clay Long announced that they intend to transfer Fire Service Training (FST) from the College of Eastern Idaho (CEI) to IDCTE in July 2021.
FST provides fire training credentialing for career and volunteer firefighters in Idaho. Credentialing is the certification process for firefighters after they have completed an approved fire service training course. Many municipal fire departments require firefighter credentialing to even test for a position.
CEI had administered FST since 2014 when the FST program was transferred to the technical college system to gain efficiencies. During that time, CEI secured more than $1 million in federal grant funding to purchase state-of-the-art fire training equipment to support ongoing skills development for more than 180 Idaho fire departments.
The proposed change will ensure Idaho’s FST provides a statewide system that allows institutions to meet the needs of their region and industry. FST will use IDCTE’s existing SkillStack® system for student record management, and institutions will have the flexibility to deliver needed training to their region. FST will continue to provide training and services for regions without fire training programs at their technical colleges.
“Over the years, CEI has made significant progress in administering FST. I am excited to build on that success and leverage IDCTE’s existing statewide framework to ensure access to training and certification for all individuals who serve in the fire service in Idaho,” said Long.
“The Idaho Fire Chief’s Association is excited about collaborating with IDCTE. We feel this is the best move to ensure career and volunteer firefighters in Idaho are safe, educated, and able to respond to emergencies,” said Myklebust.
Myklebust added that collaboration with IDCTE would foster relationships with regional colleges to provide education and keep students in Idaho to serve their local fire departments.
The decision also has the support of CEI.
“We look forward to working with IDCTE to transition this important training program back to the state to provide further efficiencies and access by both professional firefighters and students,” said Michelle Holt, executive director of the Workforce Training and Continuing Education Center at CEI. The decision was made after several months of conversations with a variety of stakeholders, including CEI, the College of Southern Idaho, the Technical College Leadership Council, the Idaho Fire Chiefs Association, and the State Board of Education. In the coming months, IDCTE will work closely with these stakeholders to ensure a smooth transition and minimal disruptions. A copy of the memo announcing the change was sent to stakeholders.