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CTC Students to be trained as Wildland Firefighters with the USDA

posted Feb 29, 2016, 10:28 AM by Jennifer Gaffke

The Wexford-Missaukee CTC Public Safety Program is excited and eager to announce their partnership with the United State Department of Agriculture to train students as wildland firefighters.  Over the course of the next two months, both first year and second year students will begin instructional classes in the realm of wildland firefighting. This training will provide foundational skill sets to graduating students looking for potential summer employment with a federal or state land management agency.

Debra-Ann Brabazon with the U S Forest Service reached out to Public Safety Instructor, DJ Newman, earlier this fall about a partnership to introduce area youth to the possibilities of careers in the federal government through training and career exploration. Brabazon, the Dispatch Center Manager for the Michigan Interagency Dispatch Center located in Cadillac, proposed a pilot program incorporating National Wildfire Coordinating Group certified training, career exploration presentations by state and federal agencies and hands on qualifications training to the Public Safety Class.

Collaborating over the past couple of months, Newman and Brabazon believe they have created a lesson plan to meet the students’ needs.  First year and second year students will receive training in wildland fire behavior, situational awareness, beginner leadership and safety. First year students will take an introductory course in wildland fire investigation and cause of origin for first responders while second year students will train as wildland firefighters.  In the Fall of 2016, returning students will move into the second year training and receive wildland firefighter training plus additional training in pumps, chainsaws, advanced leadership training and operational and tactics procedures.

While the Pilot Program exposes youth to the federal and state agencies, it also provides skill sets which can be used as an opportunity for potential summer employment. The nationally accredited training courses taught are recognized by the National Fire Administration and some universities and colleges grant college credit and work experience for students majoring in fire science. 

Career Exploration presentations will allow firsthand interaction between career professionals and students interested in following a path into public safety in federal and state agencies. Speakers include law enforcement and conservation officers, aviation managers, smokejumpers, K-9 units, Interagency Hotshots and wildland fire apprentices. Field trips to see behind the scene operations this spring as well as ride-along and job shadowing opportunities are also being offered.

“We are really excited about this opportunity,” Newman said.  “Our high school students are the first in the United States to be presented this type of training.”  If this program runs smoothly, it has the potential of being carried out to other career technical center public safety courses across the state.