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Local students get inside look at wildfire training academy for 400+ firefighters

Local students get inside look at wildfire training academy for 400+ firefighters

NACHES, Wash. -- Several state agencies and fire districts are preparing for another wildfire season. But this time, they're training together for the fires they will fight together.

Some students from Naches Valley Middle School got an inside look at that process on Thursday.

Thirteen state agencies, 27 fire districts, and 100 kids who got a sneak peek at training for more than 400 firefighters at the Central Washington Interagency Wildfire Training Academy.

"We just want the students to understand when they see a fire, and they know there's a fire out there, what's being done and how we're doing it," said the academy's Incident Commander Chad James.

Interactive stations allowed kids to see firsthand the tools and resources used to fight wildfires.

"Knowing more knowledge and what you're doing going into wild land firefighting takes a great responsibility," said Yakama Nation firefighter Marcus Enick.

Especially as firefighters try to keep 95 percent of fires under 10 acres, using saws to cut through brush and a helicopter the students could board.

The 'Delta Dawn' helicopter from the Vietnam era carries up to seven passengers and 240 gallons of water.

"These helicopters are modified quite a lot to allow us high elevations and flying with a wider safety margin," said pilot Pete Peterson.

Safety in the air for up to two hours going 120 miles per hour. Fire shelter bags were also shown to the students, which are used in emergencies.

"It's pretty cool to see how firefighters fight fires and in the minds of firefighters, I guess," said fifth grade student Lily Ringer.

"We got to learn how much they have to carry and how the tools work," added another fifth grade student, Brady Groves.

Intense work and training for the firefighters, where every second counts.

"We get everybody together at once to be able to train and take these classes and get the qualifications on the ground that we need to build," said commander James.

To build solid relationships in a collective effort to fight wildfires.

The academy training goes until May 25, with a variety of courses ranging from entry level to advanced classes for firefighters.

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