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Fire News in Focus
by Adam K. Thiel

Wildfire close call proves importance of training

We all sometimes consider annual refresher training on infrequently used subjects as boring or redundant

By Adam K. Thiel

Editor's note: Six Superior National Forest wilderness rangers may have saved their own lives Sept. 12 when the Pagami Creek fire overwhelmed their position and they were forced to deploy the emergency fire shelters they're required to carry on their belts. it emerged this week.

While I don't have much experience in wildland firefighting, the training and exposure I've had was enough to convince me that wildland firefighters, as much as structural firefighters anywhere, operate in an extremely unpredictable and often violent work environment.

As this story demonstrates, knowing how to deploy a fire shelter, even if you never think you'll have to use it, can be a lifesaver.

We all sometimes, regardless of our response disciplines or specialties, consider annual refresher training on infrequently used subjects as boring or redundant.

Clearly, for these firefighters, despite it being (maybe), "...the first time in Minnesota the devices have been used in an emergency," it was a really big deal for their training to kick in automatically.

Whether you fight wildland, structural, aircraft, or other fires...that's something to think about.

Stay safe!

About the author

With more than two decades in the field, Chief Adam K. Thiel FireRescue1's editorial advisor is an active fire chief in the National Capital Region and a former state fire director for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Chief Thiel's operational experience includes serving with distinction in four states as a chief officer, incident commander, company officer, hazardous materials team leader, paramedic, technical rescuer, structural/wildland firefighter and rescue diver. He also directly participated in response and recovery efforts for several major disasters including the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Tropical Storm Gaston and Hurricane Isabel.


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