West Nebraska Engine Academy training Completed

Crews all over the panhandle took part in special training over the weekend.
Published: Sep. 15, 2020 at 1:07 AM CDT
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SCOTTSBLUFF, Neb. (KNEP) - Over the weekend emergency crews from all over the state took part in a training exercise on a local and governmental level of intensity.

In the panhandle, crews from all around the region took part in the West Nebraska Engine Academy. This is the areas fourth year participating.

Gering Volunteer Fire Department, Fire Chief Nathan Flowers suggested a double-sided opportunity to train local resources and wild-land resources and firefighting, as well as a prescribed burning to help keep the risk of wildfires low during the fire season.

Crawford Fire Department, Fire Chief Brian Prosser says, “Not only for the firefighting techniques but one of the aircraft has an infrared system that we can use to find hot spots and stuff. We just got done with that flight that tells us well we need to focus on while we are mopping up and cleaning up the fire.”

Crews practiced battling fires at a local and state level. Alyssa Sanders with the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency out of Lincoln, NE tells us, “The goal is to start at the local level and end at the local level.”

When crews need extra assistance in response they have a plan in place for when the state gives a helping hand - leaving the local response in control as Incident Command the whole time.

Agencies in the panhandle worked as a team to help gather resources for supplies that they would need and once completed they would go over an AAR, also known as an After Action Report. This is used to assess how they did and what they need to work on.

Crews say the training that took place over the weekend was the same mechanism they used when battling the Hubbard Gap fire that took place south of Bayard just weeks ago. That fire burned over 4,000 acres and crews still don’t know what started the blaze.

“The most common cause of a fire around here are from thunderstorms. Lightning strikes and it just ignites." says Prosser.

Fires in the panhandle aren’t always caused from weather. Officials tell a reporter with NBC Nebraska Scottsbluff that campers and hikers in the area remain vigilant in making sure they keep their camper chains secure so no sparks fly and that any hikers keep their fires small and that they are put out.

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