Arkansas Fire Academy
The mission of the Arkansas Fire Academy is to provide training and certification in fire fighting and related emergency service programs to the Arkansas Fire Service, in accordance with the standards of the National Fire Protection Association. The degree program results in an associates of science degree in Fire and Emergency Response.
Fire training in Arkansas has been going on for the last 50 to 60 years. In the early 40’s the fire training was through the Arkansas Fire College. There was not a base from which to work. Three instructors basically traveled Arkansas teaching classes.
The Fire Training Academy (as it was originally named) was formally established in 1967 as a training division of the Southwest Technical Institute (later to be known as Southern Arkansas University Tech).
The administrative offices for the new fire academy were set up in what was once the main fire station of the weapons depot.
This building served as the AFTA administrative offices, primary classroom and central training location until Phase I construction at the Camden training site was completed in 1973. The building continued to serve as the administration building until the completion of a new administrative building at the training site in June 2004.
The Lead Instructor of the Arkansas Fire Training Academy was Whit Murphy, for whom the facilities at the Camden Training Site are named.
The Camden Training Site includes the new administration building with theatre style classroom, faculty and staff offices and reception area and a large classroom building with offices, a large two-story burn building, a small single-story, a smoke building, a five-story drill tower, an apparatus building, pumpers, and various training props.
The Academy's main campus in East Camden, Arkansas, was struck by a tornado on October 29, 2009, at approximately 3:50 pm. There were approximately 43 students, and several faculty in the classroom and administration buildings when the storm hit the academy grounds. The tornado, rated an EF 2 on the fujita scale, destroyed multiple buildings, including the main engine bay and smokehouse, and severely damaged all other facilities, with the exception of the Nix building, the main burn building, and the training tower. Most vehicles were damaged, some being thrown around the grounds, and consequently totaled.
The Academy's main campus is located at Southern Arkansas University Tech in Camden. The Academy also operates campuses at Conway, Jonesboro, Lincoln, and Marshall (the Marshall Campus is closed as of September 2005), as well as Associate Training Centers at Black River Technical College in Pocahontas and at Cossatot Community College in DeQueen.