Training at Camp Williams helps firefighters prep for wildland fire season

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CAMP WILLIAMS, Utah -- Firefighters from around the west spent the day lugging equipment and maneuvering engines around Camp Williams as the final portion of a week-long training program for wildland firefighting.

Incident Commander Erik Haberstick said the training is uniform around the United States, so that firefighters from federal agencies like the Bureau of Land Management and local agencies like Salt Lake County's Unified Fire Authority can work side-by-side on a fire without losing time.

"The skills are critical because in the real world, in real-time, minor mistakes add up," Haberstick said.

Among those training were members of rural and volunteer fire departments, and they were learning skills necessary to start attacking a wildfire in their communities, before state or federal help arrives.

Matthew McFarland with the Unified Fire Authority praised his department's partnership with the National Guard at Camp Williams, saying the opportunity to continue training in an appropriate setting is invaluable.

"This is a week-long class, but when you're a wildland firefighter it's a career-long pursuit to educate yourself," McFarland said.