Wildfire Academy - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

05/22/05 - Lufkin

Wildfire Academy

by Chris Cato

They trained in the classroom and out on the field, preparing themselves for what could be one of the worst seasons for wildfires in history.

Gesse Bullock, a Squad Boss Trainee, said, "it's already hot right now, it's getting hot. There's fires already starting all over the state. All over the Western United States. People here have already been out this year."

And experts predict if the dry weather continues for another month, it's only going to get worse, especially right here in East Texas. That's why some of these students at the Wildfire Academy are working so hard. The academy is held every year, but some say this year's dry weather adds a new reason to get geared up for the season.

Sue Poe, a Volunteer Firefighter, said, "basically for volunteer firefighters, we're just brushing up on our skills. Learning new things that are possible. We're headed into fire season now. From may, usually until September is going to be the hot spots, hayfields burning all over the state pretty much. Especially in a lot of the areas where it's heavily wooded."

Students put all the knowledge they gained in their classes to practical work with field exercises Sunday. It's here that they get to assemble portable pumping units that can be used to pump water from swimming pools, lakes, and anything else they can use to battle fires. It's something that some of these students can take with them and share with others they work with.

Poe said, "we do have a tanker so most of our water will come from a tanker but we also really do need to know how to pull from a natural water source."

That knowledge could mean the difference between saving someone's house, or life, when it comes to fighting future fires.

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