June 12, 2018
2018 Mid-Atlantic Wildfire Training Academy concludes at GC
The Mid-Atlantic Fire Compact recently completed its 11th annual Mid-Atlantic Wildfire Training Academy hosted by Garrett College. During the past week, the academy offered 14 classes that are essential to wildland firefighting, including fire behavior, equipment use, and leadership development.
These classes met National Wildfire Coordinating Group standards, and over 180 participants received a certificate upon completion.
Practicing with the Terra Torch, S-219 course students "put fire on the ground". Field exercise at Savage River State Forest. Photo by Chad Yoder.
In addition to classroom hours, students had the opportunity to be in the field for skills practice. Field exercises are critical for developing and reinforcing the skills that firefighters will use at wildfire incidents.
While the classroom/lecture portions were held at the McHenry campus of Garrett College, the field component exercises took place at Savage River State Forest and the Garrett County Airport. Participants occupied the residence halls throughout the week as well.
Seven states make up the Mid-Atlantic Forest Fire Compact: Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, and West Virginia. Compact members promote effective fire prevention and the control of wildfires in the Mid-Atlantic region.
Students who complete courses in the academy are also part of a large group of firefighters who respond to wildlife incidents across the country each year, as needed.
The L-280 "Followership to Leadership" course put students through their paces at the Garrett College Challenge Course. Field group exercises included the "Whale Watch", the "Australian Trolley", and the "Coal Miners Maze". These exercises emphasize leadership skills critical for working with others in a high stress environment, such as a wildfire incident. Students also practiced establishing a water supply and constructing a hose lay, simulating those skills used at wildfire incidents. Photo by Chad Yoder.
S-271 Helicopter Crew member course students secure sling load to helicopter. Field exercise at the Garrett County Airport. Photo by Chad Yoder.
Over the course of several months, Continuing Education & Workforce Development and other areas of the College have been working with the Mid-Atlantic Compact Planning Committee for the academy, according to Julie Yoder, GC's dean of continuing education and workforce development.
"We were so pleased to host the Mid-Atlantic Fire Academy this year. Students were enrolled in courses ranging from one to five days in length, with some students taking multiple courses throughout the week," Yoder stated.
"Wildland firefighters are dedicated professionals who are physically and mentally prepared for challenging fire assignments as they arise; the courses offered through the Academy assist in that preparation.
"The members of the Academy, the instructors, and the students have been wonderful to work with; we look forward to hosting them again next year!" noted Yoder.
At the academy-wide dinner held at Double G RV Park, more than $3,000 was raised for the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, which supports families with immediate financial needs after a firefighter fatality or injury. Students, instructors, and staff bid on donated items at the silent and live auctions and purchased raffle tickets.
According to the organization's website (wffoundation.org/us/), the Wildland Firefighter Foundation can fly family members to the bedside of the injured, who are often states away from where they live. The Foundation also offers long term grief recovery for those families.
The 2018 Mid-Atlantic Wildfire Training Academy was presented by the Mid-Atlantic Forest Fire Compact, Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Forest Service.