Fire-fighting training academy hosted in Craig covers variety of topics, including fire behavior

With wildfires raging in various parts of the state, federal firefighters are wrapping up critical fire-fighting training in Craig, a local Bureau of Land Management official said.

The fire crews, who are mostly made up of federal employees, are in Craig for a fire engine academy, which is one part of required fire-fighting training.

"Most units or areas where they have a dispatch put training like this on," said Lynn Barclay, a fire mitigation/education specialist with the Bureau of Land Management Craig/Routt Fire Management Unit. "We would not do it if it wasn't necessary."

Barclay said the training session was planned for this week because the height of Colorado's fire season typically starts in July.

"Most fire units hold this type of training at the beginning of fire season, when they have all their fire crew on," Barclay said. "That's when our seasonals are here, and for some of them, this will be their first season on an engine crew. This training we provide about local fire behavior and weather is critical for them to be able to operate safely."

Barclay said the engine academy would cover a wide range of topics.

"We cover cooperative agreements, organizational concerns, line of authority, field procedures, dispatch procedures, communications, field moisture levels, fire behavior, situational awareness, 2002 policies that have come out in the fire community and updates in the fire line handbook," Barclay said.

"They need to know all of this before they roll out into the field and actually go out and fight fires in order to be safe, to be effective and to know how to interact with other agencies we work with. It's just imperative for some of these folks who are brand new."

Some of the training will focus on the moisture levels and fire behavior firefighters can expect to face "with the severe conditions that we are experiencing right now," Barclay said.

Barclay said there were approximately 50 firefighters taking part in the academy.

She also said that a training session such as the engine academy is the best way to guarantee safety.

"There isn't any fire unit that's going to put people out to fight fire before they can do it safely and have all the latest information available," Barclay said. "This is the best way to ensure that all our fire personnel are going to get that information at the same time."

The engine academy ends today.

Craig Fire Chief Roy Mason said the training was important.

"From my stand point, it's very valuable," Mason said. "Our guys are all volunteers, which means they have full-time jobs. Otherwise we would be there."

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