Summer Fire School & Midwest Wildfire Training Academy

Posted on: 27 May 2009

The economy may have seen highs and lows throughout the last century, but one thing that hasn't changed is the need for state-of-the-art training techniques in emergency response. In fact, current lifestyles and improvements in technology have increased the need for education to enhance safety and survival.

The 77th annual Summer Fire School and Midwest Wildfire Training Academy will convene in Jefferson City next week, running from June 2 through June 7. Nearly 1,000 emergency responders from 10 states, including Alaska, will arrive for the latest training to manage events vastly different from those encountered as recently as two decades ago.

The fire school and wildfire academy each include classroom instruction on latest techniques and outdoor practical training. "There are nearly 40 training sessions, from basic emergency techniques to specialized courses in dealing with technical rescue operations and company officer training," said Kevin Zumwalt, Assistant Director, MU FRTI. Classroom sessions will be at the Thomas Jefferson Middle School with hands-on training at the Jefferson City Fire Department training center and at other locations in and around the city.

The six-day event is actually three concurrent events: Summer Fire School, the Midwest Wildfire Training Academy and the Equipment Exposition.

Fire school courses teach participants the latest techniques in firefighting, technical rescue and emergency situation management. Courses offered for the first time this year reflect the diverse roles firefighters play in today's world. Working the "Big Rigs" is a practical exercise in which firefighters learn hands-on techniques for large over-the-road trucks when they become involved in an accident. The Rope Rescue Challenge is an advanced class in which the students have to perform rescues in scenarios developed to test the skills and knowledge learned from previous classes. Other new classes, such as Fireground Combat Operations and Advanced Pneumatic Shoring are designed to increase chances of firefighter survival. The School Bus Rescue class, back after a long hiatus, enables participants to learn how to handle multiple casualties and agencies, situations which tax fire departments and personnel.

The Midwest Wildfire Training Academy is a cooperative effort between the Big Rivers Forest Fire Management Compact and MU FRTI. The Big Rivers Compact group includes the Iowa, Illinois and Indiana Departments of Natural Resources, the Missouri Department of Conservation and the USDA Forest Service.

Now in its eighth year, the Midwest Wildfire Training academy focuses on handling wildfires, from grassland to forest fires, fire behavior and incident management. With current dry conditions in the western states, this training is very timely.

This year the Academy is excited to offer a new course in Incident Leadership. Building and maintaining crew cohesion in rapidly changing, high-stress situations can be very challenging. The goal for the course is to build and improve the leadership skills specific to exercising effective command and control during an emergency incident.

"The academy helps develop the skills and leadership positions we need to fight large wildfires here in Missouri," said Lisa Allen, Missouri State Forester. "But those same skills can be applied in responding to other natural disasters such as tornadoes and floods."

A new event this year is the first annual Phil Sayer 5k Benefit Run at 7:00 a.m. on Friday, June 5 at the North Jefferson City Pavilion. Philip Sayer, founder of the Galt Fire Department, dedicated his time and resources for the improvement of funding and training for volunteer fire departments nationwide. The run will raise money to fund scholarships for volunteer firefighters and fire officers to attend Summer Fire School.

Friday afternoon the Equipment Exposition opens at noon at the Capitol Plaza Hotel in downtown Jefferson City and runs until 7:00 p.m. The exposition will showcase the latest in emergency and firefighting gear. The Cole County Fire Protection District Ladies Auxiliary will also be sponsoring a benefit Bar-B-Que. The public is encouraged to participate in these events.

"We've offered top-notch training to firefighters for seventy-seven years; our classes have evolved over the years as firefighting has changed with technology and world events. We're quite proud of the reputation the MU fire school and wildfire academy has around the country," Zumwalt said.

Fire & Rescue Training Institute
University of Missouri