LITTLE ROCK — Wildland fire training was provided to 250 firefighter trainees from 13 states by experienced professionals at the 2021 Arkansas River Valley Fire Academy. The annual academy was hosted by the Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Forestry Division, U.S. Forest Service, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, and the National Park Service. The 2021 academy, usually held at Arkansas Tech University, was hosted virtually.
“We are pleased to be a part of this valuable training program that teaches an array of wildland firefighting skills,” said Wes Ward, Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture. “The continuation of the academy, despite the limitations imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, is a testament to the quality of the training and the relationships within the forestry community.”
The Arkansas Department of Agriculture and its partners in wildfire suppression, prescribed fire, and conservation combine hands-on exercises and classroom material to teach basic fire suppression, advanced suppression strategy and tactics, engine operation, dozer operation, Incident Command procedures, and more. All courses at the River Valley Fire Academy are accredited by the National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG), which allows firefighters to gain required skills for wildland firefighting positions in Arkansas, and those required to assist on out-of-state wildfire incidents.
“The courses offered at the River Valley Fire Academy give wildland fire professionals the knowledge and hands-on training from experienced instructors,” said State Forester Joe Fox. “This two-week training is critical to the safety of wildfire crews in Arkansas and in the southern states.”
Attendees include participants from the following federal, state, and private entities: Arkansas Department of Agriculture, U.S. Forest Service, Arkansas Game & Fish Commission, The Nature Conservancy, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, U.S. Corps of Engineers, Arkansas State Parks, National Park Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Oklahoma Forest Service, several Arkansas municipal fire departments, and individuals from Oklahoma, Missouri, Virginia, North Carolina, Alabama, Texas, Mississippi, Florida, South Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Georgia.
Planning is underway for the 2022 River Valley Wildland Fire Academy that will continue to offer classes that are specific to the needs of Arkansas wildland firefighters, a well-rounded agenda of diverse NWCG courses, and professional instructors that meet standards of excellence in training. Enrollment for the 2022 academy will open in early spring of next year.