Minnesota firefighters participate in week-long wildfire training academy

Grand Rapids, Minn. – The Minnesota Incident Command System (MNICS) is hosting the annual Minnesota Wildfire Academy in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, this week. The academy runs from June 3 to 7, with training activities held on and near the Minnesota North College – Itasca campus. With nearly 450 registered students, it is one of Minnesota’s largest interagency wildland fire training events.

“Because the academy is open to all agencies who support wildland fire throughout Minnesota, it is one of our most powerful tools to develop nationally qualified wildland firefighters,” said Taylor Schenk, wildfire training coordinator.

The annual week-long event draws in wildland firefighters throughout Minnesota, from local fire departments to tribal, state and federal wildland fire management agencies.

Academy coordinators have been preparing for the Academy event all year, assessing fire training needs and selecting classes designed to provide students with a variety of wildland fire operations, planning, safety, and leadership development opportunities.

“The national standards the Minnesota Wildfire Academy follows sets our students up for success in fighting wildland fires in Minnesota and throughout the United States,” said Schenk.

Throughout the week-long academy, classroom instruction and hands-on field training exercises introduce students who range from entry-level firefighters to advanced fire leaders capable of leading teams to the fireline. Courses are designed to engage students in simulations that allow them to work with various tools, equipment, and procedures that are standard for wildland firefighting. Specifically, these courses are focused on:

  • Basic firefighting and initial attack response
  • Leading 20-person hand crews and engines units assign to work on the fireline
  • Basic wildland fire air operations and helicopter crew support
  • Wildland fire behavior and field observations
  • Applying the Incident Command System to expanding wildfire and all-hazard incident response

Minnesota’s success in wildland firefighting is rooted in collaboration at every fire response level. The Minnesota Wildfire Academy is an excellent example of collaborating to fulfill a vital public safety goal. Its success results from partnerships between the Minnesota North College, MNICS interagency instructors and event coordinators, and the greater Grand Rapids community to provide an exceptional learning experience in realistic settings.

The Minnesota Incident Command System (MNICS) is an interagency group of state and federal partners cooperating to manage wildfires and other all-hazard incidents. The organization develops standard procedures, practices and guidelines to support incidents and resource mobilizations in Minnesota and the greater United States.

The MNICS partners include the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Minnesota Department of Public Safety – Homeland Security and Emergency Management, USDA Forest Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, National Park Service, and U.S. Fish and Wildland Service.