SPOKANE, Wash. — Members of the Washington National Guard are participating in an annual firefighter training this year so they are fully prepared in the event that they are sent to a fire line.
The National Guard is a reserve resource for situations when the governor declares a state of emergency in Washington. They are trained like military personnel to be prepared for most situations, but wildfires require a different level of training.
"It's real, so we've got to take this seriously. That way when we respond, we can learn from those mistakes that have happened, or just learn from history so that we can respond effectively," Alex Reimer, senior airman with the Washington National Guard, said.
The week of training is teaching them safety while simulating what it's like to live on the fire line.
"Being a part of the academy here, it allows them to camp out and kind of get a taste of what it's going to be like in a real fire situation. This is really the most realistic they are going to get before they are actually out there on the fire lines doing this stuff," Michael Brown, Washington Air National Guard Tech Sergeant, said.
In previous years, there were shorter wildfire training sessions for National Guard members at Air Force Bases around the state. But having the National Guard fully trained to combat wildfires will make any emergency fire situation run more safely and efficiently.
This year's fire season is predicted to be average, meaning eastern Washington will likely experience several fires throughout the course of the summer.
The first notable Washington wildfire of the season broke out in early June near Royal City, Wash. The 243 Fire burned an estimated 20,830 acres and damaged three outbuildings.
At last check, the cause of that fire was under investigation.