The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Firefighter trains in Taiwan, wins award

Frank+Becerra%2C+a+full-time+firefighter+for+the+city+of+Fort+Worth+for+25+years%2C+stands+by+one+of+TCC%E2%80%99s+Fire+Training+Center+fire+trucks+on+NW+Campus.+Becerra+has+instructed+part+time+at+the+training+center+for+six+years.%0D%0AMartina+Trevi%C3%B1o%2FThe+Collegian
Frank Becerra, a full-time firefighter for the city of Fort Worth for 25 years, stands by one of TCC’s Fire Training Center fire trucks on NW Campus. Becerra has instructed part time at the training center for six years. Martina Treviño/The Collegian
Frank Becerra, a full-time firefighter for the city of Fort Worth for 25 years, stands by one of TCC’s Fire Training Center fire trucks on NW Campus. Becerra has instructed part time at the training center for six years.
Martina Treviño/The Collegian

By Bethany Peterson/nw news editor

A trip to train firefighters in Taiwan and dedication to training firefighters at TCC’s Fire Service Training Center set one adjunct instructor apart from other nominees for a prestigious award.

Frank Becerra received the George Hughes Instructor of the Year Award from the Texas Association of Fire Educators. The award honors a person for his or her direct involvement in training others either in a department or in a training center.

Becerra has been a full-time firefighter at Fort Worth fire station No. 8 for 25 years and has instructed part time at the Fire Training Center for six years.

“Frank puts a lot of time and effort into the program,” said Steve Keller, the fire training center coordinator who nominated Becerra for the award. “He wants to make sure that the best possible training comes out of each class he gives.”

Last year, Becerra took that dedication overseas. Taiwan had recently built a new fire training center, and their instructors needed to learn how to use the equipment, Keller said.

So they sent representatives to the U.S. to look at similar facilities and to arrange for instructors to come teach how to use their system.

“We had a lot of their chiefs here looking at our facility,” Becerra said. “Andrew [Haecker, another instructor] and I seemed to be here a lot during that time, and we hit it off.”

So well the Taiwan visitors requested that Becerra be sent to teach them to use their facility, Keller said.

“We taught 60 guys total,” Becerra said. “Basically, those guys would be their instructors for the whole island.”

The firefighters he met were all good, knowledgeable firemen, Becerra said. He was just training them how to use a new piece of equipment, a very big piece.

The center included every possible scenario in all of Taiwan, Becerra said.

“They had an airplane, a train, a boat, a three-story boat for the harbor guys, a speedway and a regular subway,” he said.

Although some differences between the TCC fire center system and the one in Taiwan required some adjustment in the techniques, Becerra said it was mostly the same kind of thing.

For instance, while the TCC fire center includes small towers and a small neighborhood of single family homes, the Taiwan center had large, tall buildings.

“It’s an island. Everything goes straight up,” Becerra said. “They have some big buildings. The first couple of days Andrew and I got lost in there.”

He said a couple of times they had to put one hand on a wall and follow it until they happened to walk out.

“We would be in class 8-5 and then ask if anyone had questions, and, oh, man,” Becerra said.

The trainees had a lot of questions, and Becerra and Haecker had to be careful during training sessions to keep the discussion on topic because the Taiwan trainees were interested in everything that was different in the U.S., Becerra said.

“Ninety percent of those guys were very well educated,” he said.

About half of the trainees knew decent English, and a quarter of them could understand English but had trouble speaking it back, Becerra said. Translators were also on hand to help out.

But no matter the differences, firefighters are firefighters, Becerra said. Though he was never the target, he said he saw them pulling practical jokes on each other and giving each other a hard time.

But the Americans didn’t escape completely.

Becerra and Haecker stayed in the training center’s dormitories while in Taiwan. They were told that they were staying in the VIP section.

While the room was nice enough, Becerra said it was a typical dorm room — small and not fancy. So he asked, “Why is this VIP?”

“It has a private bathroom!” was the response.

Becerra said he keeps in touch with several of the Taiwan firefighters.

At home, Becerra said it was just right-time-right-place that led to his going to Taiwan, but Keller had a different opinion.

“He is always ready to step up. We count on him a lot,” Keller said. “Frank is very humble. I had to drag him to get his picture made [with the award].”

Keller also said that Becerra set a good example for the center’s rookie class.

“He was almost killed himself once when he was working on a highway [emergency] and got hit by a car,” Keller said.

And the training Becerra did in Taiwan was more than just a good experience.

“We have built a bridge where they come to us for training, and Frank helped cement that bridge,” Keller said.

Donate to The Collegian

Your donation will support the student journalists of Tarrant County College. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Collegian