FIREFIGHTER TRAINING Firefighters from 13 states recently received wildland fire training in Wausau.
WAUSAU Wildland firefighters often travel many miles across the nation in search of required fire courses. These classes often fill up quickly and it can take frustrated firefighters years to find the required courses to meet fire qualifications. With this in mind, Wisconsin fire managers decided to organize a one week fire academy that offered a variety of classes at one location.
All roads led to Wausau in June as more than 180 wildland firefighters from 13 states traveled to the inaugural Wisconsin Interagency Fire Councils (WIFC) Wildland Fire Training Academy at the Northcentral Technical College.
This was the first wildfire academy in Wisconsin and judging from reviews of the participants it was a huge success. Nine courses were offered over the course of one week. They included courses in leadership, business management, air operations, wildland fire modeling and fire behavior.
These were sought-after courses that are not always easy to get into because of the high interest nationally, said Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest Fire Management Staff Officer Jim Grant.
Fire managers put in many hours organizing the academy and scheduling the 35 instructors involved in teaching the classes.
It was worth the effort. With the success of the inaugural academy the future looks bright.
I look forward to a bigger and more improved academy in the future, Grant said.
WIFC is already making plans for a larger and more improved 2007 Academy which could be offered as early as January 2007 and with a possibility of offering two academies verses one.
WIFC is an interagency group represented by the USDA Forest Service, US Fish & Wildlife Service, Menomonee Tribal Enterprises, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry.
WIFC is responsible for guiding interagency wildland efforts in Wisconsin, identifying problem areas in interagency coordination, formalizing wildfire and prescribed fire operations between the federal and state agencies, offering training on a multi-agency basis and coordinating the growth of wildland interagency communication and dispatch efforts within the state of Wisconsin. Badger state wildland firefighters annually are dispatched to fires all across the United States.
Alan G. Barbian works for the USDA Forest Service.