Firefighting classes start this weekend

Ever think you might want to be a firefighter? Here’s your chance for a taste of that career.

The Second Annual Nebraska Wildland Fire Academy begins this Saturday and Sunday at Fort Robinson State Park, near Crawford. Other class days are scheduled for March 28 and 29. Clint Phillips, engine foreman for the U-S Forest Service in Chadron, said the first academy took place in Crawford and had about 90 participants mostly from Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming.

He said they have expanded the academy’s curriculum this year to serve more individuals. “We have six classes, anywhere from Basic Firefighter to the more advanced Engine Boss, Crew Boss, Single Resource Boss type classes,” he said. “We’ll hopefully have a good turnout again this year.” Early registration is strongly encouraged. The cost is $30. Unless otherwise specified by the instructor, class time is from 8 AM to 5 PM. Also, annual Red Card Refresher Training will be offered for four hours on the Saturday evenings. Registration is not required, but is appreciated.

Phillips said the classes are not just for firefighters. “Anybody who has an interest or wants to gain some knowledge is more than welcome to show up,” he explained. “We’ll be taking registration at the door on March 21st. There’s six different classes. Anyone who has previous fire experience might want to look at some of the advanced classes, but if you’ve never taken a fire class before, you might want to look more at the basic firefighting class.”

Phillips added that on the 28th, between noon and 3 PM, they are going to open thing up to the public. “We’ve got several fire departments – and this will be weather dependent obviously, but it’s looking pretty good right now – they’re going to bring some trucks down, put them on display, the public is more than welcome to come out,” he said. “We’ve got some prevention stuff from the state that they’re bringing up from Lincoln. Just a good time, Smokey will probably make an appearance, so bring the kids, play on the fire trucks and have a good time.”

The fire academy takes place through interagency cooperation from: Fort Robinson State Park, the Crawford Fire Department, the Chadron Fire Department, the U.S. Forest Service, the Nebraska State Fire Marshal Traing Division, the Gering Fire Department, Pine Ridge Job Corp, the Harrison Fire Department, the National Weather Service, the City of Crawford and the Nebraska Forest Service. For more information, call (308) 432-4475 or (402) 472-6634.

Thanks to Genell Rothleutner, KCSR, Chadron