Texas In October: Capital Area Interagency Wildfire Academy

Whether you are a structural firefighter or a wildland firefighter and if you want a great learning experience, Texas style, you need to plan on attending the Annual Capital Area Interagency Wildfire Academy. This is one of the premier academies of its kind in the nation and firefighter attendance continues to increase each year due to its popularity and the unique hands-on learning experiences that are offered.

Photo by Robert M. Winston
Firefighter students learn all about pump use and hose evolutions during this Engine Academy class.

Photo by Robert M. Winston
Assistant Fire Chief Harold Reynolds, Southeast Travis County Fire District, lines up firefighters for the arduous "Pack Test" that will allow those who successfully complete the test to become certified, physically, for wildland firefighting. One must carry 45 pounds for three miles in 45 minutes or less to qualify.

The academy is held on the grounds of the Texas Army National Guard's Camp Swift Training Facility in the City of Bastrop, about 30 miles east of Austin. There are 27 fire courses scheduled to be taught this year by a host of qualified structural and wildland interagency firefighters from across the country. The courses range from eight to 40 hours of instruction.

Photo by Robert M. Winston
Students actually get to drive a bulldozer during the Wildland Dozer Operations class.

Weather permitting, emphasis is placed on live fire training where appropriate. The Camp Swift facility encompasses thousands of acres of wildlands and a self-contained instructional-living area that includes classrooms, barracks-style lodgings, an EMS office, a laundry and a fully equipped mess hall.

Some of the 27 courses scheduled to be taught are Basic and Advanced Wildland Firefighting, Initial Attack Incident Commander, Basic and Advanced Engine Academies, Wildland Power Saws, Fire Operations in the Wildland/Urban Interface, Interagency Helicopter Operations, Crew Boss, Wildfire Behavior, Task Force/Strike Team Leader, Fire Suppression Tactics, Dozer Operations (students actually get to operate a bulldozer), Ignition Operations, Pumps, Water and Foam Use, and Fire Cause and Determination.

The dates for the academy are Oct. 12-26. For complete information access the website at www.ticc.fws.gov/academy/page.htm or call the Texas Interagency Coordination Center at 936-875-4690.

Robert M. Winston, a Firehouse® contributing editor, is a district fire chief in the Boston Fire Department with 31 years of structural and wildland fire experience. He is a Red Carded qualified Structure Protection Specialist and instructor for wildland/urban interface fire protection. Winston holds a degree in fire science and is a member of the National Fire Academy Alumni Association. He can be contacted via e-mail at dfcwins@adelphia.net or at 781-834-9413.