The Lufkin Fire Academy is a comprehensive wildland and incident management training program. Once a year, it prepares firefighters in all aspects of emergency response. They come to East Texas from as far away as New York, Wyoming, and Puerto Rico to participate. The training is as diverse as they are.
Bruce Woods, chief fire training coordinator for the Texas Forest Service, said the academy is for "firefighters that are in all stages of their career - from entry level to intermediate firefighters to firefighters that are in advanced levels - attaining leadership training and incident management training here at the academy."
Many of the firefighters have already used their training to save lives during 9/11 and hurricanes Katrina and Rita, but what they're learning in Lufkin goes beyond disaster relief.
Ursula Braudrick, Oklahoma Bureau of Indian Affairs/Concho Fire Agency, said, "It's different getting to know different people from different places. The interaction with different agencies is good for all firefighters. It gives us a hands-on experience with everybody."
No matter what type of emergencies they face at work, staying up-to-date on the latest life-saving techniques is every firefighter's job and responsibility.
"[We need to] be sure that everyone knows what they're doing in order to accomplish our objectives in the fire area," said Pablo Rosa of Puerto Rico.
The Incident Command System has been in place for years, but it wasn't until the World Trade Center attacks and the Columbia disaster when it became popular in non-fire emergencies.
More than 220 firefighters and instructors are taking part in the week-long academy. The wildfire training courses prepare students for all types of emergency response from fires to hurricanes to acts of terrorism.
Many parts of East Texas have not seen rain in weeks and firefighters are worried about fire danger this holiday weekend.