Wildfire Academy Takes Over Itasca Community College
From the classroom to the field, new firefighter personal are getting some hands-on experience thanks to the annual Wildfire Academy that’s being held at Itasca Community College and the University of Minnesota North Central Research/Outreach campus in Grand Rapids.
“We’ve basically filled every hotel in the Grand Rapids area, plus I believe we have students in Deer River and we have students in Hibbings,” says Mike Aultman, the incident commander for the incident management team at the Wildfire Academy.
The Grand Rapids area has been brimming with excitement since the academy started this week on Monday.
“This academy has been going on now for 18 years. It started out originally over in Eveleth. At that time, we had maybe a dozen to 15 classes that we taught,” says Aultman.
This year, there were 670 students and 98 instructors who came from all over the United States. 32 courses were offered from basic Wild Land Fire 101 to air operations, a simulated injury class and even a chainsaw class.
Aultman says, “We try to incorporate a lot of classes, like the urban interface class has volunteer fire department on it plus our agency people on it, and what they do is they come to this class each position, different position, within the wild land fire program they have to take training. They have to do a taskbook and then they can advance on up the line.”
The academy has grown immensely in the past five to ten years. For 2019, the academy is planning for more of the same with only a few class changes here and there.
“One year, we might teach a supply unit leader class because we’ve trained 15 to 16 people that year, then next year we might offer one of the other classes that are available so the class mixture changes a little bit each year,” says Aultman.
The academy will continue on through tomorrow.