(from a press release) The two‐week Advanced Firefighting Academy culminated in a graduation ceremony in Tok, Alaska, on June 10. The celebration took place at the Tok School gymnasium. This is the third year that the academy is graduating a class, marking the advancement and excellence of wildland firefighter training and interagency cooperation in Alaska.
“Synergy….. It takes more than one of us to achieve our goals. Help each other and anyone who needs it.” Louis Silas- Instructor
The 34 students range from seasoned firefighters with many years of experience on the fireline, to those still in school and planning to pursue careers in wildland fire. The purpose of the academy is to provide the concentrated delivery of advanced training in subjects such as portable pumps and water, chainsaw use, air operations, basic land navigation, leadership, and safety. The benefit of the academy environment is not only the skills learned by individuals in the field and classroom settings, but also what they learn about leadership, team building, life experience, and personal growth.
“We are not only trying to build leaders on the fireline, but also people who can go back to their communities and be leaders there too.” Greg Arkle – Onsite Coordinator
According to Sanky Ulak, a student from Scammon Bay, you should “do what you have to do, do it, and do it again. Then you will find yourself at or above the goal you set.” Eric Bauchmann, a student from Minto, says “never think you have done enough. You can always do more.”
While the individuals come from many locations throughout the state, they are all united by their service to the firefighting community in Alaska and throughout the nation. Congratulations to the graduates and to their respective communities: Chevak, Circle, Delta, Fairbanks, Galena, Holy Cross, Hooper Bay, Kongiganak, Lower Kalskag, Manley Hot Springs, McGrath, Mentasta Lake, Minto, North Pole, Pilot Station, Scammon Bay, Tok, and Wasilla.
Academy cooperators include the Alaska Division of Forestry, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and Tanana Chiefs Conference. The BLM Alaska Fire Service has provided administrative and training support. Through cooperation with the University of Alaska (Fairbanks), Interior Aleutians Campus and Community and Technical College, participants in the academy have the opportunity to earn up to eight college credits.
“The spirit of the crew is within each individual.” Samantha Holmes – Hooper – Student
Cadets Justin Mayo and Basco John reference the IRPG and Fireline Handbook while testing during basic academy
Instructors Louis sills and Doug Albrecht help cadets unload from the helicopter during Helicopter crewmember class. (left to right) Doug Albrecht, Louis Silas, Billy Vanborg II, Samantha Hooper, Justin Mayo
Advanced Academy cadets break for lunch during the chainsaw field practicum.
(left to right) Billy Vanborg II, Jonathan Phillips, Eric Bauchmann, Derrick Henry, Terence Joe,
Dylan Sherry, Theresa Chimeralrea
(left to right) Front Row. James Millard Jr., Eric Bauchmann, Derrick Henry, Drew Patrick, Zachary Alexakis, Dwayne James Jr., Roc Sweeney, Morgan Martins, John Meaney, Kalen Kelly, Anthony Hooper,
Second Row. Greg Arkle(Coordinator), Brentwood Reid(Instructor), Blair Acheson(Logistics), Ron Recckio, Dylan Sherry, James Anthony III, Leonard Chickalusion II, Dalton Mitchell, Steven McCracken, Robert Worel, Aaron Kozevnikoff Jr., Ricky Lee Cisto, Dalton Robinson, Wendel Harren, Tylan Martin(Assistant Professor, UAF), Louis Silas(Instructor),
Third row. Justin Mayo, Billy Vanborg II, Samantha Holmes-Hooper, Jonathan Phillip, Terence Joe, Theresa Chimeralrea, Cheryl Martins, Terence Tall, David Huntington, Gustan Green, Sanky Ulak, Timothy Hooper
Featured Photo at the top:
Basic cadets Kyle Peter and Jaylon Lacy practice using backpack pumps during the basic academy field exercises.