In June 2018, southwest Utah experienced critical temperatures and fuel moistures near or at record levels, producing extreme fire danger. These conditions prompted interagency fire restrictions on June 1 to prevent catastrophic, human caused wildfires. Because initial attack fire occurrence is typically too great for any one agency to manage, wildfire response is conducted with a multi-agency approach to ensure public safety and fire suppression efficiency. Color Country Interagency Dispatch, located in Cedar City, Utah uses a “closest forces concept” to dispatch interagency resources from the Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, National Park Service, State of Utah Division of Forestry Fire and State Lands, and multiple local fire departments to wildfires within nine-county area.
“In order for interagency fire suppression to be successful, it’s imperative that all firefighters are trained to a standard level and are utilizing familiar equipment while practicing consistent communication methods,” said Acting Fire Management Officer Clair Jolley. Through the Local Cooperator Assistance Program (LCAP), federal firefighters have the opportunity to interface with, instruct, and train local fire departments from within their fire management areas to achieve this standard level of professional training, and to meet national standards implemented by the National Wildland Coordination Group (NWCG). This year the program helped train a total of 10 fire departments and 315 students in southwest and central Utah.
Local fire departments have a great opportunity to develop new firefighters through their recruit academies and extensive, all-risk training programs. These academies allow for personnel to earn their beginning as a valuable asset through quality training. This spring, Cedar City Fire Department began a new recruit academy, starting with 26 candidates. At the end of the five-month academy, only four candidates remained as this program requires many hours of hard work and regular Saturday training sessions.
One of those four remaining candidates is Madi Hall. Madi, a 22 year old phycology major student at Southern Utah University spent her days studying phycology and her nights training to become a firefighter. The first certification required for the group was to become a certified wildland firefighter and to obtain a Red Card to start working on wildfire incidents. Through her own hard work and through formal training presented by multiple interagency NWCG course instructors, the LCAP Program provided her with the skills and knowledge to complete her S-130/S-190 (Basic Firefighter Training) to become qualified as a Wildand Firefighter Type 2.
This summer, Madi responded to local initial attack fires, and nationally to six extended-attack, project fires. Madi worked over 56 days on wildfires this summer and now has fireline experience to provide her with a complete skillset to perform firefighting duties that would qualify her to work proficiently for any fire management agency she desired. Madi also constructed fireline, deployed hoselays, mopped-up, supported firing operations, learned proper chainsaw use, and has developed a high level of experience for her first year thanks to tactics and lessons learned through the LCAP Program.