Firefighters Train for Busy Fire Season

WICHITA FALLS - As temperatures continue to hover above average and strong winds continue, the fire weather danger will remain high through tomorrow. And local firefighters are now better prepared to fight wildfires, after some extensive training.

You can see just how dry the vegetation is. This time of year, especially when we haven't seen rain in a while, it doesn't take much to set off a wild fire. But how do local firefighters prepare and stay on guard for these types of situations?  We got to attend the wildfire academy and find out.

A prescribed burn is the final test at the Red River Wildfire Academy and since the fire danger is high this week, this training was right on time.

20 different fire agencies got in some class time and hands on training from the Texas A&M Forest Service, with a burn at Camp Perkins.

"All the training we can get is always great," said firefighter Matthew Childs. "With us joining a program where we can be deployed anywhere in the state, local, mutual aid areas that we help out with around Wichita Falls. It's just great to have the extra training that we need to help assist in fighting these wild fires."

Childs has been with the Wichita Falls Fire Department for 17 years. This is the only the third year the wildfire academy has been offered and he said it is useful to all departments, especially when it comes to providing mutual aid.

"A lot of them don't work close to home, so a lot of your volunteer departments around are really short staffed during the day," Childs said. "So, they'll call on us from time to time to come help them."

Forest service officials said a 6-acre burn like this is also good for the environment.

"Prescribed fire is beneficial for the ecosystem," said Stacy Harvick, a Wild land Urban Interface with the Texas A&M Forest Service. "It helps prevent wildfires in the future and also mitigates them. So, if they do occur they're not going to be as bad."

Harvick said the Texas A&M Forest Service is on a mission to ensure both volunteer and paid fire departments across the state are ready when the call comes.

"Whenever a wildfire actually does happen, that's who we're partnering with to make sure we can keep all of our residents and people safe whenever that's occurring and we can get it under control as quickly as possible," Harvick said.

Which is why training like this is key, to ensure those on the front lines are better prepared for whatever sparks.

Since the fire danger will remain high over the next couple of days, make sure you check for local burn bans before you burn anything!


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