May 14, 2012 --- LUFKIN, Texas --- In the Lone Star State, 80 percent of wildfires occur within two miles of a community, and volunteer firefighters are considered the first line of defense for almost all of them. Those statistics underline the need for additional wildland firefighter training, and nearly 200 emergency responders from across the country will get just that at the 15th Annual East Texas Interagency Wildfire and Incident Management Academy. Firefighters will converge on Angelina College in Lufkin over the next two weeks to learn about wildland firefighting, dozer operations, chainsaw use, incident command, tactical decision-making and fire behavior. “In our business, training is an essential element,” said Bob Koenig, chief response training coordinator for Texas Forest Service. “It doesn’t just prepare you for the job; it can save your life.” The academy is a joint effort coordinated by Texas Forest Service, Angelina College, U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Weather Service, The Nature Conservancy, National Wildfire Coordinating Group and Texas Wildfire Association. Courses offered are part of a standardized, national training curriculum developed by the National Wildfire Coordinating Group. Classes begin Tuesday, May 15, and run through Friday, May 25. ### Media Visits Various courses have designated field days during which students are working outside with equipment, rather than in the classroom. Journalists interested in covering field exercises should call one of the public information officers listed below to schedule a visit.
The most visual field day likely will be Saturday, May 19, when the beginner firefighting class dons wildland protective gear and digs handline in preparation for a prescribed burn – weather permitting.
The field day schedule is listed below. Dates are subject to change. Saturday, May 19 Basic Engine & Suppression Tactics: Introduces students to basic wildland engine suppression tactics in both rural and wildland urban interface settings. Students will also be introduced to basic engine terminology, structure triage, hose operations and foam and water use practices to optimize the water available. Basic Firefighter/Introduction to Wildland Fire Behavior: Introductory course designed to train entry-level firefighters. Student will gain an understanding of the basic incident management organization, firefighting techniques, suppression equipment, safety, strategy/tactics and basic fire behavior. Sunday, May 20 Basic Engine & Suppression Tactics: Introduces students to basic wildland engine suppression tactics in both rural and wildland urban interface settings. Students will also be introduced to basic engine terminology, structure triage, hose operations and foam and water use practices to optimize the water available. Monday, May 21 Followership to Leadership: Self-assessment opportunity for individuals preparing to step into a leadership role. Students engage in team-building exercises. Tuesday, May 22 Dozer Operations: Designed for the equipment operators that will be working in a wildland fire environment. It will cover basic dozer and heavy equipment tactics, safety, personal protective equipment and supervision. Wednesday, May 23 & Thursday, May 24 Wildland Fire Chain Saws: Provides an introduction to the function, maintenance and use of internal, combustion engine-powered chain saws and their tactical wildland fire application. Field exercises support entry level training for firefighters with little or no previous experience operating a chain saw, providing hands-on cutting experience in surroundings similar to fireline situations. Contacts: Jan Amen, Public Information Officer 936-546-1004 cell, email@example.com *Available Monday, May 14 through Thursday, May 17. Holly Huffman, Public Information Officer 979-324-0708, firstname.lastname@example.org *Available Saturday, May 19 through Friday, May 25.