Firefighter recruits prepare for wildfire season with hands-on training

RICHLAND, Wash. (KAPP-KVEW) — Wildfire season is in full swing, and we have seen an uptick in wildfires across the state this April, according to the Washington Commissioner of Public Lands. Now with a drought advisory issued by the WA Department of Ecology, concerns over wildfires grow.

Friday, the Joint Fire Academy Recruits

class of 2021 started their hands-on training to contain wildfires after 14 weeks of classroom training. This experience helps the recruits learn how fire reacts to different brush, wind, and weather conditions.

“The instructors are going to be working on not just clearing this field for us, but they are going to do some test burns here and there so they can show different ways fire behaves in wildland interfaces,” said Ben Shearer, the PIO for the City of Pasco Fire Department. “We have a couple of different fuels out here; we’ve got some sagebrush and some grasses.”

VIEWER PHOTOS: Three days of Richland wildfires send smoke into the air

The 16-week intensive program is designed to prepare recruits from Richland and Pasco to handle any situation. Some of the recruits will also be joining the team at Richland’s new Fire Station No. 5 that will be completed this summer.

During wildfire training, firefighter recruits learn valuable skills like digging a proper fire line, using different tools to control the fire, and observing the ground in the entire area to keep the fire within the lines. The goal is to slow down a wildfire by getting rid of any unburned fuel (brush, trees, or anything that can fuel a fire) out of the way so that the fire has nowhere to go.

The fire department wants community members to know that they can prevent some wildfires. According to Shearer, 70% of wildfires are human-caused.

RELATED: Pasco Fire Department demonstrates how to properly put out a cooking fire

“Wildfires can happen from campfires that didn’t get extinguished and burning fires that are out of control or too big or somebody wasn’t watching them,” Shearer said. “We can alleviate some of those and get the public to be safe about the weather conditions out here and how dry the grass is and how it’s going to continue to get dry as we continue into the summer.”

As Memorial Day Weekend continues, it’s another reminder to have a fire extinguisher with you whenever you work with fire, especially fireworks. The most important thing to remember is if you see a wildfire let the professionals who have the training and the proper gear handle the situation.

“We don’t want citizens out there putting themselves at risk for fires,” Shearer said.

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