Near-record attendance for Arizona Wildfire Academy - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

Near-record attendance for Arizona Wildfire Academy

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PRESCOTT, AZ (CBS5) -

A near-record number of firefighter trainees are in Prescott attending the 12th annual Arizona Wildfire and Incident Management Academy this week.

CBS 5 got a front row seat to the 130/190, or basic firefighting course, as the trainees cut a fire line.

The group worked as a team to remove the organic flammable material and bring it down to mineral soil.

"So the idea is the fire front, the flame front, will come, run out of fuel, when it hits the mineral soil, and go out," said academy instructor Mike McGuire.

This year, the Arizona Wildfire Academy has more than 700 attendees from 29 states, including one trainee from Australia. The Academy, hosted by Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, has issued 6,800 student certifications.

"We look at it as providing a service. And hopefully we're providing the best quality of service. As a matter of fact, I'm confident in telling you I think this is one of the best academies in the country," said academy incident commander Pete Gordon.

Some of the trainees are trying to get on with local fire departments, and some want be hotshots. But others have changed course completely.

"My dad and I owned a motorcycle dealership in Flagstaff, we got out of that wanting to do something new. I got into insurance, decided that kind of work wasn't for me. Got into the medical field after that. I work for a local ambulance company, am a paramedic now, and decided the fire service was the path I wanted to go to," said attendee Jeremy Johnson.

Whenever that next wildfire may be, this group wants Arizonans to know that they're in good hands.

"They've given it their all, and we're very pleased with their progress," said McGuire.

"The way we come together at training is exactly like we come together when there's a crisis or a fire to deal with," said Gordon.

About 87 percent of the funding for the academy comes from donations. If you'd like to learn more about the academy or to make a donation, CLICK HERE.

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