Fire Stories

Fire stories from the national parks highlight events, incidents, and the like, associated with fire and fuels management, as well as fire education, technology, partnerships, and more. Stories highlight work related to Department of the Interior initiatives as well as local and regional initiatives.

Hands on sawyer training

Hands-on training for sawyers. Photo by Virginia Department of Forestry.

Virginia 11th Virginia Interagency Wildland Fire Academy

Virginia Department of Forestry & NPS Northeast Region
Department of the Interior story, Firefighting*

More than 300 firefighters from Virginia and neighboring states took part in a variety of courses designed to better prepare them for the challenges and dangers associated with suppressing wildfires. The week-long program began May 31 at the annual Virginia Interagency Wildland Fire Academy at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia.

While many of the courses are classroom based, several involve fieldwork. These include the chainsaw operations course, where participants learn how to properly fell trees during a wildfire, and the bulldozer/fireplow course, where participants operate these pieces of heavy equipment over and through a variety of obstacles they will encounter in the woods. The “students” in this course also attack and suppress a real wildfire at night as part of the program using only their bulldozer/fireplows.

John Miller, VDOF’s director of resource protection, said, “We rely on partnerships with volunteer and career fire departments along with a cadre of ‘as-needed’ wildland firefighters across Virginia to effectively and efficiently suppress wildland fires in the Commonwealth. Our Wildland Fire Academy is the one place where we can bring together first responders and teach them the latest in wildfire suppression techniques.”

Day starts with briefing at the fire academy.

Each day at the Academy starts with the briefing, just as it would on a wildland fire. Photo by Virginia Department of Forestry.

Funding for the Virginia Wildland Fire Academy is provided by the National Fire Plan Ready Reserve Program through the National Park Service and from the USDA Forest Service. This year’s class includes people from the VDOF; 116 individuals from VFDs and career fire departments in Virginia; the National Park Service; the USDA Forest Service; the US Fish and Wildlife Service; the Virginia Department of Fire Programs; the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation; Virginia Tech; the Virginia Master Naturalist program; the National Weather Service; the Maryland Department of Natural Resources; the Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry; the Kentucky Division of Forestry, and The Nature Conservancy. The 17 people from out of state came from Kentucky, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Ohio.

Contact: John W. Campbell, Virginia Department of Forestry and Barb Stewart, National Park Service
Phone: (434) 220-9070

*This story supports the Department of the Interior initiatives.