FLAGSTAFF, AZ — Anyone who has lived in Arizona in recent years has likely heard about or seen the devastating impact wildfires can have on our forests, homes, and local communities.
With every fire, hundreds -- and sometimes thousands -- of acres are burned, some claiming homes and buildings along with them.
To fight those fires, teams of firefighters and hotshot crews in those areas routinely conduct prescribed burns -- smaller, controlled fires -- to help eliminate fuel sources, and conduct training operations to improve firefighting efficiency and operations.
That hands-on training, now bringing other firefighting agencies to Arizona for on-the-ground experience.
Agencies from Colorado, Nevada, South Dakota, and other parts of Arizona partnered with the Flagstaff Fire Department and City of Flagstaff to create the Formal Training Exchange. The teams worked together on prescribed burns, woodland urban interface, smoke management, and how to safely thin the forest.
This training is the first of its kind in the Flagstaff area and is being sponsored by the International Association of Fire Chief and the Fire Learning Network. This effort allows the different agencies to connect, build communications, and learn how to use fire as a tool.
“This Prescribed Fire Training Exchange is designed to provide experiential training that builds local capacity for fire management while offering professional fire practitioners a more holistic perspective” said Neil Chapman, the wildland forest health supervisor with Flagstaff Fire Department.
Fire officials hope this training and the prescribed burns will help give wildland crews different tools they need to help fight fires during fire season.
The prescribed burns will be conducted within Observatory Mesa, Rogers Lake, the U.S. Naval Observatory, and private lands with Coconino County. So, those in the area may notice smoke from those fires and training operations.