Crews from four Utah counties gather for wildfire training

WEBER COUNTY, Utah — Nearly 100 firefighters from four counties in northern Utah gathered at Weber Memorial Park for a day of wildfire training Friday.

“We’re huge on trainings,” said Dustin Richards, a Bear River Area Fire Management Officer. “We love training. It prepares our people and us for the upcoming year.”

Crews from Weber, Box Elder, Cache and Rich counties took part in the drills. They didn’t fight any actual flames — all of the fires were simulated.

“This is a good way for our crews to practice the whole process from the initial dispatch to actually putting a plan together,” said Michael Erickson of the U.S. Forest Service.

The firefighters took orders from commanders and completed tasks they would normally do if a fire was burning. Some of those tasks included digging a fire line and operating a fire hose.

“If you get good and efficient at putting fires out, that creates a safe environment,” Erickson said.

Five stations on private land offered crews different looks at scenarios they could face when a fire breaks out.

“It’s extremely critical for our new developing firefighters," Richards said. "It gives them the opportunity to get out and see what physically needs to be done on the fire line before there really is a fire."

There is no telling how dangerous this fire season may be in Utah.

“With the winter we had and the weather we’ve got lined up right now, I would think we could possibly have a pretty extreme year,” Richards said.

It could be a matter of when — not if — these skills will be put to the test.

“They will use them multiple times this summer,” Erickson said. “I can say that with a probability of 99 to 100 percent.”

A wildfire on 20 acres northwest of Vernal prompted evacuations Friday.