HCC hosts NC Forest Service Annual Fire Academy Training
Haywood Community College recently hosted the North Carolina Forest Service's annual Fire Academy training on campus. Over 150 attendees participated in courses and activities designed to provide the skillsets and confidence to handle a range of benefits.
The participants are wildland firefighters from various agencies, primarily the NC Forest Service. In addition, there were representatives from NC State Parks, US Forest Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, City of Asheville Firefighters, the Department of Defense at Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base and the National Parks Service.
The activities spread throughout campus were centered around building leadership skills. "To build this skillset, you need clear, concise communication and a lot of trust," says Joe Jones, a 27-year forest fire equipment operator.
To put this into practice, many of the activities involved being blindfolded. The participants were split into groups and given designated leaders for each activity. Group leaders guided their blindfolded teammates as they were attached by a rope and moved through a marked course, attempted to make a basket in disc golf and launched balls by a slingshot into a goal. In addition to the blindfolded activities, the participants also built Lego structures in a short amount of time with limited communication, went on a scavenger hunt through the rhododendron garden and acted out fire shelter deployment dilemmas, practicing deployment zone safety.
The participants also went to the classroom for a few courses. Wildland Urban Interface, Aviation Operation and Incident Command courses were held throughout the week. The courses, certified under the governing body for Wildland fire, the National Wildfire Coordinating Group, are all tailored toward wildfire incidents but can be applied to all disaster scenarios.
Because of the pandemic, the last time the NC Forest Service had to opportunity to hold an in-person training week with this many participants was in 2019. According to the representatives, in-person activities and courses help the participants engage and understand the information, preparing them more for real-life scenarios.
Photos by Suzanna Moses
Haywood Community College (HCC) is part of the North Carolina Community College System and is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges & Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Founded in 1965, it is an open-door institution with the mission to serve the educational needs and economic growth of our community by promoting lifelong student learning and success. This includes programs for Haywood County high school students through Career and College Promise and Haywood Early College. The college campus, a designated arboretum, boasts one of the most beautiful college campuses in the state with an iconic mill pond, a productive greenhouse, dahlia gardens, an orchard garden and a rhododendron garden.