Wildland fire academy coming to Summit County
A week-long intensive academy for firefighters and emergency responders will make its way to Summit County in June, offering local firefighters and emergency teams top-of-the-line training close to home and local businesses a fresh influx of customers. Organizers say the Colorado Wildland Fire & Incident Management Academy, held twice a year in different locations around the state, could yield upwards of $500,000 for Summit County businesses.”We do bring in a considerable amount of money to the local community,” said Brian Ayers, president of Upper Arkansas Valley Wildfire, the non-profit organization that hosts the academy. The academy, planned for June 6 through June 12, will offer firefighters and emergency responders from all over the country and the world classroom and field courses in wildland fire and incident response. Organizers said they expect to host approximately 500 emergency personnel for the week. For Summit County first responders, the program will provide affordable and accessible courses. “It’s an opportunity for local agencies to receive quality training at low expense,” Ayers said. “We’re bringing the training to them.”Local fire and emergency response teams will not only save on travel expenses to attend the academy, but may be given registration discounts in exchange for donating things such as transportation, food service and local instructors to help organizers cut costs. “I can’t tell you how excited I am we’re going to have this right here in our backyard,” said Summit County Commissioner Dan Gibbs, a volunteer wildland firefighter and former student of the program. “I’ve really benefited personally from my experience with the academy.” Academy students will have the opportunity to take classes in fire investigation, prevention, leadership, first aid and emergency management and planning. Various courses provide specific training for different emergency personnel as well, such as incident commanders or field observers. Many courses are classroom based, but some are designed to teach real skills in the field. During one course, students will be cutting down trees killed by the mountain pine beetle. Breakfast and lunch will be provided to the trainees, but at night participants will have the opportunity to go out for dinner and explore Summit County. Organizers said many participants may opt to extend their visit for a few days before or after the academy program to enjoy the mountains. “I anticipate that we’ll have a lot of families that will want to stay and do things,” said Wendy Fischer, executive director and training coordinator for the academy. “We’re excited to be here.” Economic impact surveys showed that the last academy, held in Colorado Springs in January and attended by approximately 800 people, brought in close to $1 million. Academy coordinators are discussing organizing evening programs and specials from local businesses for the program participants as well as fire safety and prevention classes for the public. The week will also include a firefighter barbecue and the program’s annual golf tournament to raise money for their benefit fund, money donated to support firefighters across Colorado. Registration for students is $65 per day and increases to $75 after May 15. Additional and updated information is available online at http://www.cwfima.com.
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