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Virginia Wildland Fire Academy: 17 years strong

The Virginia Wildland Fire Academy is in the 17th year of the mission to provide high-quality fire training education to Virginia firefighters and regional partners. Since 2001, more than 7,000 students have participated in the many courses offered each year.  This is a total of 194,464 hours of instruction and has added important capacity to the state’s and region’s fire and incident response capabilities.

virginia department of forestryThis year, nearly 300 firefighters will take part in a total of 11 courses offered June 6 – 10 at Longwood University.  The students hail from 10 states and represent 14 state agencies, seven  federal agencies and 48 other local/county and private organizations.

John Miller, director of fire and emergency response for Virginia Department of Forestry, said, “Virginia’s Wildland Fire Academy is one of the best opportunities for students to learn, improve and fine-tune their skills in a setting that is controlled but is as realistic as possible.  In the early years of the Academy, the goal was simply increase capacity for fighting forest fires in Virginia and to build camaraderie among those who perform this important public safety service.  While those remain key components, the Academy has grown and expanded to include incident command training, wildland-urban interface, air operations and prescribed fire.  The result is that students gain the skills necessary to be more effective wildland firefighters both in Virginia and nationally.”

The training even extends to the way the Academy is conducted and managed as it employs the same system that is used to manage large, complex emergency response events.

“In all, the Wildland Fire Academy will improve the ability of the Virginia Department of Forestry and other regional agencies to respond effectively to the more than 1,000 wildland fires that occur each year in the Commonwealth and enable us to better protect the citizens of Virginia,” Miller said.

The Virginia Department of Forestry protects and develops healthy, sustainable forest resources for Virginians.  Headquartered in Charlottesville, the Agency has forestry staff members assigned to every county to provide citizen service and public safety protection across the Commonwealth, which it’s been doing now for more than 103 years.  VDOF is an equal opportunity provider.

With 16 million acres of forestland and more than 103,000 Virginians employed in forestry, forest products and related industries, Virginia forests provide an overall economic output of more than $17 Billion annually.


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