Future wildland firefighters experience hands-on training with f - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Future wildland firefighters experience hands-on training with fire

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YAKIMA, WA - The Commissioner of Public Lands is expecting another big fire season ahead of us. With that said, it's good to know hundreds of firefighters are training for wildfires already. 

More than 400 firefighters are participating in the 10-day training Central Washington Inter-agency Fire Training Academy offers. Today's exercises had one group of firefighters putting out a wildfire, and another group in helicopter training.

36 fire districts and agencies are involved with the training because this gives first-time firefighters an idea of what it's going to be like during an actual fire. This was actually the first time 47 firefighters fought a fire for the first time, and one of them told us how they felt going in.

"It's scary but in a good kind of way, in an exciting way," said Tessa Rough, a firefighter in training. "Knowing that I can have this opportunity to bond with these people in a fire setting where it's not just for fun and learning but we are actually making a difference."

The Commissioner of Public Lands says Washington is seeing more fires on the west, which is why they need more firefighters. The commissioner also says the biggest challenge continues to be our forest crisis, causing fires to be more challenging and larger.

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5-16-18 UPDATE:

YAKIMA, WA - Preparation is key when it comes to wildfire season. The Washington State Department of Natural Resources along with several other organizations are gearing up for another wildfire season and are in the middle of the Central Washington Interagency Fire Training Academy in Yakima.

Throughout the next few days, agencies are coming together to train, learn and familiarize themselves with each other. Over 400 different students of all ages from 18 different agencies and 36 different fire departments from around the state will go through the academy. Aside from teaching them skills in the field, the students also learn different skills vital to fire fighting.

For those traveling to that area, Cowpuncher Road and Ridge Road will have temporary closures throughout the day from May 16 to 18. Camping will also be restricted during those days.

For more information on this make sure to head over to their website, www.dnr.wa.gov/wildfiretraining.

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5-15-18 ORIGINAL STORY:

YAKIMA, WA - The heat on Tuesday was perfect weather for hundreds of future wildland firefighters who are training just outside of Yakima. 400 rookie wildland firefighters have been in Gleed since late last week for the Central Washington Inter-agency Fire Training Academy.

In 2017, Washington wildland firefighters had to put out dozens of fires including devastating fires like the Norse Peak Fire, The Jolly Mountain Fire, and the Eagle Creek Fire. Each of them ended up destroying hundreds of thousands of acres.

2018 could be even worse for fire crews, so the 10-day training academy is a great opportunity to get ready for what the upcoming fire season will bring.

"It's a lot of digging line," said John Naylor, a 19-year-old first year wildland fire training academy student. "We do some water stuff but we don't have much water and there's not a lot of water sources to get it. Just a lot more physical demand over a long period of time."

Naylor has been fighting structure fires back home in the Midwest, and decided this year to drive up to Washington to give wildfire firefighting a try.

During the academy, Naylor and other crews from 18 different agencies and 36 fire districts and departments are learning basic and advanced wildland firefighting skills. Some have previous firefighting experience like Naylor, while others are just beginning their firefighting careers.

"I came from a family that has a heavy firefighting background and logging background," said Devyn Dickinson, a 19-year-old rookie firefighter. "I thought wildland forest firefighting would be a good way to get into the firefighting community and make connections."

According to Dickinson, ages of the firefighters training for their first wildfire season range from as young as 18 to as old as 36. But none of that matters once the men and women are working to stop a future wildfire from spreading.

"Wildland firefighting also has the benefit of protecting the environment," said 33-year-old Darby Sandoval. "Protecting people's homes and keeping people safe. I wouldn't consider myself a hardcore environmentalist but I definitely like the Earth and I'd like it to stay green." Sandoval just got out of the Army early this year. This is his first year being a wildland firefighter.

Tuesday's training was also a field trip day for the entire 5th and 7th grade classes from Naches Middle School. Students visited multiple stations, where firefighters taught them the different aspects of wildland firefighting. They got to tour and sit in a helicopter, and tried their best at how quickly they could put on an emergency shelter.

And there were at least two very eager students who say they're already ready to fight fires.

"I like helping people," said Madde Sartin, a Naches 7th grader. "So this feels like I could help people without being with needles and everything."

"The reason why I want to do it is because I like saving people and I think it would be really, really cool," said student Kaylee Cooper.

Meanwhile, Wednesday will be a huge day for the training students who will leave the classroom for live field exercises, including time with actual fire.

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