March 24, 2014
Kansas Forest Service hosts wildland fire training
Kansas Forest Service employees are once again hosting a six-day hands-on hazard fuel reduction internship and training event that has come to be called the Mitigation Project from March 23– 29.
This year, there will be more than 30 Hutchison Community College Fire Science students and 40 wildland firefighters from 19 different agencies and at least seven different states. The project will be run by an incident management team in the same manner as a large wildland fire incident. Now in its 10th year, this project is larger and more complex than it has ever been.
Rodney Redinger, incident commander for the incident management team and Kansas Forest Service training specialist states, "To support the size and complexity of this incident, we've brought in equipment, and enlisted the expertise from a diverse group of cooperating agencies."
Assisting Kansas Forest Service this year: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Kings Canyon National Park, Calif.; Mesa Verde National Park, Colo.; Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest Service, Iowa; Nature Conservancy, Fla.; University of Missouri; Fort Riley Conservation; Fort Riley Fire Department; Blue Township Fire Rescue; Burrton Consolidated Fire District No. 5; Colorado Wildland Fire Service; Denver Fire Department; Hutchinson Fire Department; Johnson County Fire District No.1; Manhattan Fire Department; Pottawatomie County Conservation, Iowa; Sedgwick County Fire District No. 1; and Wichita Fire Department. Members of the southeast and south central Kansas All Hazard incident management teams will also be participating in the event.
Kansas Forest Service Fire Management funds this project with grants received from the U.S. Forest Service. This grant is designed to cover the cost of fuels reduction in areas where life or property could be harmed in the event of a wildfire. This year's project will be reducing fuel loads around Toronto State Park, and Kansas Forest Service Jackman Demonstration Forest near Leon, Kan.
Students and fire personnel will be using fire engines, chainsaws, hand tools and prescribed fire as tools to mitigate wildfire hazards. These firefighters are all national certified and will be in both trainee and trainer positions. This project gives the students and firefighters a good chance to get some off season training in a safe, learning environment.