Annual Fire Training

Every year, beginning the first weeks in May, Utah County Fire finishes its preparation for the upcoming wildland fire season.

During these two weeks the focus is on 3 things:

  • Knowledge and skill development
  • Physical Fitness
  • Crew Cohesion

Knowledge and skill development is an important aspect of firefighting and is a constant process. From the first year/rookie firefighter to the seasoned veteran, there is always additional knowledge and expertise to be gained. In the classroom setting, students and teachers go over factual and technical aspects of the job. Upon leaving the classroom, students and teachers implement their knowledge and engrain the teachings in field exercises. Classes include but are not limited to: Medical, Water handling, Saw training and certification, Leadership techniques, etc. . . .

Physical fitness is key to firefighting. In the wildland fire environment, individuals are called upon to work long, strenuous hours in extreme environments. In order to be prepared for the arduous work, physical fitness is a consistent part of a firefighter’s schedule. During the annual training, UCFD’s firefighters can be seen hiking, running, dragging charged hose lines, along with a variety of other exercises to improve their muscular and cardio strength. Although individuals are expected to prepare physically before the fire season, the physical training provided in the annual training can tax even the most prepared.

Crew cohesion is one of the most rewarding and most difficult aspects of firefighting. The importance of a unified crew cannot be understated. Babe Ruth once stated:
“The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.”

The same holds true in a fire organization. A group of individual firefighters that find a way to work together will achieve greater results than a fractured group.

During the annual and other trainings, the goal of the department is to develop a team minded approach to all aspects of work. When cohesion is achieved, then the long hours of firefighting don’t seem quite so long and the team can rely upon each other whenever an emergency or unforeseen event occurs.

The annual crew training, although difficult and taxing is a perfect opportunity to more fully prepare for the upcoming season.

Hand Crew Life

Utah County Fire is home to a nationally available type 2IA hand crew. For a member of Utah County’s initial attack hand crew, a typical day on assignment begins before dawn. As most of the crew march to chow, crew leaders head the morning briefing to receive assignments and establish tactical plans for the operational period.

Travel to the assigned area is most often a combination of foot and vehicle travel, however; on occasion a helicopter may provide a lift to a remote location.  After traveling to the assigned area, the crew grabs tools and gear for the day. The 20 man crew can be divided into squads of 5-7 individuals or broken down into smaller modules. Configuration of the crew and situational objectives are provided in the crew briefing along with a detailed explanation of all factors affecting the incident.

At the assigned area, saw teams begin cutting fire-line followed by the “diggers” who scrape down to soil and move anything that could threaten the perimeter. The crew leadership will establish and convey safety parameters and constantly monitor the overall situation of the fire so that individuals can be safe and effective.

Tactics, used on incidents, vary widely depending on the situation. It is a crew member’s job to use all of the tools that become available for the assignment at hand. The following is a non-comprehensive list of possible assignments:

  • Firing and holding operations
  • Mop-up and patrol
  • Initial attack
  • Line rehab
  • Felling operations
  • Contingency line construction
  • Structure protection
  • Line scouting

Generally the day ends with another hike out to the vehicles and a journey back to base camp. After rehabbing equipment and a review of the day’s activities, it is off to chow and then to the sleeping bags.

Before you are ready, the day begins again with another assignment. The crew will work long hours, typically 16 hours a day. A tour of duty may last 14 straight days followed by 2 days off. After the 2 days are over, the crew may head out for another long assignment.

UCFD Wildland Engines

Utah County Fire utilizes a variety of wildland engines.  Fire engines are categorized based on their capabilities including: tank size, pump capability, number of firefighters, etc. . . Below is a list and capabilities of our current fleet of engines from smallest to largest.

UCFD Employs

2 type 6 brush trucks (4 wheel drive): These engines carry 250 gallons of water, seat 2-3 firefighters and have a pump capacity of 50-100 gpm. An advantage of these smaller trucks is the nimbleness in areas where bridge load limits and narrow roads may prohibit larger vehicles.

3 type 4 heavy brush trucks (4 wheel drive): These engines carry 750 gallons of water, seat 3 individuals, have foam capability, and a pump capacity of 50-100 gpm. These 4 wheel drive engines have been the work horses of our department for over a decade. The larger tanks of water enable prolonged engagement on a fire.

2 type 3 engines (4 wheel drive): The newest additions to our engine fleet were designed as a hybrid between structure and wildland firefighting, in order to work well within the Wildland Urban Interface (the area where wildland and infrastructure meet). Although these vehicles have 4 wheel drive capeabilities, the longer wheel base inhibits significant off road driving. The tanks carry 750 gallons of water but have the additional pump capacity of over 1000 gpm as well as CAF systems for foam delivery.

1 type 3 Tatra (6 wheel drive): Perhaps the most unique member of our fleet is the Tatra. This engine carries 2000 gallons of water, has CAFS foam capability, and has seating for six. This engine has advanced off road capabilities which make it a great tool for fighting desert fires and in areas where water is not as readily available.