Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s (ERAU) Prescott campus welcomed hundreds of firefighters from throughout the country to the Arizona Wildfire & Incident Management Academy March 12 to March 17 for an intensive week of training and education.
It marked the 20th anniversary for academy to use the campus during spring break. The academy is considered the premier program nationally in quality and innovative wildland fire and all-hazard incident management training.
An estimated 960 from 21 states have enrolled in the 45 courses offered.
Academy Incident Commander P.J. Lingley said a major challenge was to put a “laser focus on development of competent, capable and safe people in the face of challenges from ever-increasing wildfires and other natural disasters in our country.”
Lingley has more than 20 years of wildfire management experience and 19 years as an academy instructor.
He underscored a report from the United Nations Environment Program that said the warming planet and climate change had increased worldwide, especially in the U.S., northern Siberia and eastern Australia. The report warned that catastrophic wildfires could increase by third by 2050.
Curtis James, ERAU professor of meteorology, explained that periods of extended drought and climate warming these past several decades have resulted in increases in the number and size of wildfires in Arizona and other states.
“Wildfire is among the worst natural threats to life and property,” James said. “However, the more we work to manage and mitigate wildfires, the more we can minimize their devasting impacts. That’s why we’re so pleased the AWIMA selects ERAU for its very practical program”
ERAU Chancellor Anette Karlsson said the university made every effort to accommodate hundreds of persons to campus and classrooms. She noted visitors had arrived at a prime time of year and had a significant impact upon the local economy and “enjoyed our local campus and community just as spring is arriving.”
In addition to ERAU, the academy received significant support from several professional organizations, among them Arizona Public Service, Captain CrossFit and State Farm Insurance.
The 2021 academy was canceled because of COVID-19. Instead, smaller and remote learning experiences were used.
More details are available at www. azwildfireacademy.org.
Photo by Ray Newton.