Wildland fire training offered to volunteer fire departments
With nearly all of Nebraska experiencing drought, the risk of wildfires has skyrocketed statewide and, in turn, the need for wildland-trained fire personnel is ever-growing. Almost 90% of Nebraska’s firefighters are volunteers. Now, local volunteer fire departments have a unique opportunity to participate in wildland fire training close to home.
The Nebraska Forest Service (NFS) will host the Eastern Wildland Fire Academy at Ponca State Park Nov. 2-6, 2022. The Academy offers participants coursework and hands-on experience that helps equip them for wildfire suppression within Nebraska and the Midwest.
Classes include Red Card certification training via basic and advanced wildland firefighter courses, wildfire behavior, crew boss, engine boss, and wildfire chainsaw usage.
The Eastern Academy is in its third year of operation. Eric Moul is the wildland training coordinator at the Nebraska Forest Service.
“There’s a need for more wildland-trained firefighters in Nebraska, which is why we started this academy,” Moul stated. “We want to give firefighters the chance to gain more skills to help them be better able to respond to Nebraska’s increasing fire seasons.”
Some wildland fire activity in Eastern Nebraska has been attributed to prescribed burning, which is why wildland fire training is essential for burn practitioners, as well.
“It’s important that Nebraska’s firefighters have access to wildland fire resources,” Moul added. “They’ll gain a lot of experience and contacts, as well as a support network.”
Art Robertson, a volunteer firefighter in Hickman, attended the academy. He stated that the Academy is a valuable experience that can offer a huge networking opportunity to volunteer and aspiring firefighters.
“Going to the academies here in Nebraska, you’re around other people who are not in directly neighboring districts,” Robertson said. “You become more aware of what others are doing around you; you get to trade experiences and best practices.”
To find out more and register, visit go.unl.edu/wildland