Firefighters use wildfire drills to prepare for upcoming season - FOX 10 News | myfoxphoenix.com

Firefighters use wildfire drills to prepare for upcoming season

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MESA, Ariz. -

Wildfire season is just around the corner, and firefighters from local and federal agencies are coming together for wildfire preparedness training in Tonto National Forest.

With just a box of sand, yarn, and toy cars, these firefighters are creating a topographic map that will help them fight a wildfire. Today and tomorrow, over 200 participants will complete exercises just like this as part of the central Arizona Wildland Response Team Drill.

"we'll be doing an annual fire fighter refresher training involving all of the required training for firefighters across the country for wildland fires, so we're kind of taking our structural firefighters and preparing them for the wildfire season," says Kevin Bailey Jr., Central AZ Wildland Response Team.

With the ongoing drought and low snow pack, Captain Bailey says to expect an above average fire season. That's why it's vital for firefighters to hone skills like radio communication, fire operations, and creating a fire break.

One of the most important skills that firefighters are learning here is how to use a fire shelter. This is a firefighter's last resort, when he's in the middle of a wildfire and can't get to a safe zone.

"They're designed so that you can actually stay in that shelter for even hours if you have to," says Fort McDowell Fire Chief Mark Openshaw.

Drills like these will help participants serve communities well beyond the southwest.

"It's a very good possibility that we're moving out of state this year and helping suppress the wildland fires across the country," says Bailey.

The firefighters didn't actually set fires as part of the training. However, they did simulate fighting a wildfire using real structures and equipment.

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