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Firefighter Refresher Course for the Forestry Department - abc27 WHTM

Firefighter Refresher Course for the Forestry Department

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Lovingston, Va-  Fall wildfire season is here and The Virginia Department of Forestry wants to make sure its men and women are prepared to handle any and all situations.

The Forestry Department held their first of three area refresher courses in Nelson County Sunday. It consisted of both physical and classroom training.

The training is critical. As time passes, techniques and safety strategies change. It's always good to have a refresher course on what to do when called upon. 

 "The fires that tend to be the biggest problems are the smallest fires. The wind changes, the weather changes, fire behavior changes and you wind up getting trapped," said Martha Warring, Senior Area Forester.

Forest fires can get out of hand in a matter of minutes. That's why it's important for members to know what they are doing. The formal crew started in the fall of 1995 when a group of volunteers came together to form the Central Blue Ridge Wildland Firefighters.

The firefighters volunteer for the Department of Forestry. There are still four men from the original group still serving nearly 20 years later. Now, there are close to 50 people that make up the group, and they stay prepared to do what they do: fighting fires.

 "There's new things that we need to know about and new tactics that we might wanna take on in any situation that would come up in this area," said firefighter Massie Saunders.

Each year the firefighters update paperwork, watch an educational video, and go through in-class training. They also complete a physical fitness test and have some hands-on training.

"It's kinda like getting in a different car, you know you just wanna find out where your buttons are and what you're supposed to do. And it's very helpful to have this refresher training every year," said firefighter Charles Pierce.

One of the main things practiced was how to deploy a fire shelter. The shelters are made of silicon, aluminum, and fiberglass. They are built to withstand heat and pressure, and if caught in a fire, could be a lifesaver.

"Some of these guys have been doing it for ten, twelve years and they know how to do it, but the more you practice with it, the better off you are at it and then one day if you should need it- then you're ready to do it," said Warring. 

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