Record number of attendees at Arizona wildfire academy

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Above: Students use sand tables to visualize initial attack scenarios and learn how to make sound decisions in this S200 Initial Attack Commander course during the 2018 Arizona Wildfire and Incident Management Academy in Prescott, Arizona. Courtesy photo. 

An annual wildfire training camp’s enrollment ballooned to record numbers this year on the heels of an especially active fire season — and the release of Only the Brave.  

At least 1,020 students are partaking in the 51 classes offered at this week’s Arizona Wildfire and Incident Management Academy in Prescott, said Tony Sciacca, Executive Director of the academy, as reported by The Daily Courier in Prescott. In its 16 years of operation, the academy’s previous highest enrollment  was 730.

The academy has a capacity of 1060.

“It’s a significant jump,” Sciacca told the newspaper.

During the training, which began March 10 and lasts through Friday at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, attendees can pick from more than 50 NWCG, FEMA and other skills classes. Class offerings range from the entry-level S-130/190 to more advanced leadership or communications roles.

The Goodwin Fire burned 28,500 acres just outside of Prescott last year.  That, along with high-profile wildfires in California, might have piqued some interested in the academy, which is largely attended by Arizonans.

Additionally, there stands to be more money to go around this year. Arizona’s governor last month called for the doubling of the state’s investment in fire prevention funding for the upcoming fiscal year, from $1 million to $2 million.

And while it’s impossible to say, interest in wildland firefighting has surely increased since October’s release of Only the Brave. That film, of course, is based on the Granite Mountain Hotshots that fought not only wildfires for several years, but also battled with the establishment to finally be certified as the first Type 1 Interagency Hotshot Crew managed by a municipal fire department — the Prescott, Arizona Fire Department.

Field day for the 130/190 students

Posted by Arizona Wildfire and Incident Management Academy on Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Author: Jason Pohl

In addition to writing for Wildfire Today, Jason Pohl reports on public safety-related issues for The Arizona Republic and USA TODAY.