In an effort to better facilitate training for volunteer fire departments (and paid where feasible) a project was developed to provide training locally. This project is being implemented under a National Fire Plan grant from the US Department of Interior, US Fish and Wildlife Service. The area of concentration is in the vicinity of the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge in Fort Morgan, Alabama and the Grand Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Grand Bay, Alabama. The classes are offered after normal work hours in a weekday/weekend combination.
The project coordinator is responsible for securing instructors, approving and supplying student materials, securing classroom as well as field exercise locations, soliciting registrations, handling registrations, securing food and coordination with local fire departments for scheduling. The materials, site, instructor and equipment are supplied by the grant and a minor registration fee is collected to cover the cost of food and to encourage registrants to follow through to be in class.
The advantages of this method are that the training is brought to the fire departments after normal working hours as to not interfere with work and reduce the need to take annual leave. The class is offered locally to reduce travel cost. The registration fee is nominal.
This strategy has been successful in attracting volunteer fire fighters. There have been three basic wildland firefighter and fire behavior classes offered since January 2003. The classes were 97% full (70 slots offered/68 students in attendance) with a waiting list.
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