USA — Fargo, ND — Wildfire concerns have diminished since earlier this spring, but if one should break out in North Dakota we now have more volunteers trained to battle it. Nearly 50 North Dakota National Guard members spent the weekend digging, sweating, training to handle an out of control fire.
“It was a lot harder than i thought…”
Heavy Equipment Operator Levi Whipple has been a member of the North Dakota Army National Guard for seven years. Never before has he gone through a training quite like this.
Levi Whipple/ND Army National Guard: “I was just digging a fire line, and what they do when they are done with that is burn the, from the fire line toward the fire to reduce spread.”
Whipple decided he wanted to volunteer to fight fires after seeing a flyer.
Levi: “I kind of like taking classes, other than just going to drill.”
He has spent the last several days learning about all the different types of fires, ways to put them out, and even got tested for how physically fit he is. Whipple along with the others had to walk three miles within 45 minuets, all while carrying a 45 pound back pack.
Levi: “That actually was a little worse than I thought, I went through aerosol and that was 12 miles and this was three, and I actually got more blisters doing this one then i did that.”
After digging these volunteer firefighters will be learning how to use the truck, it’s hose, and water supply, to make sure they are fully prepared to fight a real fire.
Sara Tunge/ND Fire Manager: “It is to talk about different suppression tactics that we might be using to get them familiar with some of the tools that they may see should they ever be called up to help us.”
North Dakota Fire Manager Sarah Tunge has been training volunteers from the Guard for about four years.
Tunge says with the help from these volunteers, we can be sure wild fires will be better managed.
Sarah: “Fire fighting is hard work, and this gives us a group of folks that we can pull from for fresh bodies.”
When all training is done, Whipple will not only be certified to fight for our country, he will also be certified to fight fire, and Tunge will be satisfied knowing she has extra hands on deck to help fight a future blaze.
Levi: “Feels good helping, knowing you are helping communities.”
Volunteer firefighters from the Guard have been called on in past years.