USFA Takes Steps to Make National Fire Academy Green

EMMITSBURG, Md. -- The USFA is doing its part to go green.

Students staying in dorms at the National Fire Academy here will soon have something new in their rooms -- a thermostat.

And, to save trees, student manuals will be available on compact disks.

Right now, students don't have the luxury of choosing the climate in their rooms. But, that will change soon as the heating and cooling in five buildings are being converted from steam to geo-thermal.

The first well field -- near the 9/11 memorial statue -- is now complete and fresh sod covers the area.

The 50 wells -- each 400 feet deep -- were looped, and will handle the heating and cooling needs for 45 rooms, explained Perry J. Joy, support services chief, who is overseeing the project.

Renovations to the hallways and rooms are being done a floor at a time to lessen the impact on students who stay on campus, he added.

The project -- funded by FEMA -- will result in a cost saving of $500,000 or more.

New windows also have been installed in some of the buildings.

Another initiative underway at the NFA involves reducing the amount of paper used. Officials noted that after classes, student manuals and other materials were left behind.

Some of the manuals couldn't be used again because they contained notes. Some instructors surmised that the heavy documents were left behind so students didn't have to pay extra baggage fees.

Starting in November, the student manual will be available on disk. Traditional books will be available in the classrooms, and they will be used again.

NFA Superintendent Dr. Denis Onieal said once the results of the pilot are assessed, it may lead to more manuals presentation information being available online. This has the potential to reduce paper usage, and save the National Fire Academy up to $128,000 per year in production costs.

"An additional benefit to this method will enable us to keep student manuals more current in response to emerging trends and issues," Onieal said in a prepared statement.

"We will be able to provide students the most current data and information by electronically updating the course manuals."

He added that students also will be encouraged to take notes on their computers rather than in notebooks.