October 6, 2015

Volunteer firefighters flock to Nebraska training academy

Barn Fire 2As fears of wildfires flare with dry conditions in many parts of the state, the seventh annual Nebraska Wildland Fire Academy is scheduled to begin this coming weekend and run through early May.

Casey McCoy, a wildland fire training manager with the Nebraska Forest Service, says 20 courses are being offered.

“Primarily, what we were trying to address was a void of training that could lead to certification on the part of volunteer firefighters,” McCoy says. “The initial push was in the northwest part of the state. What it’s grown to is it’s become an academy that draws students from multiple states, six or eight states every year.”

Past academies have drawn up to 300 students, a majority of whom are volunteer firefighters. Courses focus on leadership, skills and operations and incident management, with names like Air Tanker Management and Introduction to Wildland Fire Behavior Calculations.

McCoy says students can still sign up.

“Unfortunately, we have a few that have low registration so if we don’t get some more students signed up for those, we won’t be able to present those,” McCoy says. “If the classes are still going, we’ll take registration right up to the day of class starting. They can get to the registration through the Nebraska Forest Service website.”

The academy runs April 26th through May 4th at Fort Robinson State Park near Crawford.

Just over a week ago, eight counties in southwest Nebraska were included in a disaster area declared by the federal government due to the lingering drought.


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