Area firefighters take advanced training
John Rusyniak | Courtesy of Alaska Department of Natural Resources
Advanced Firefighter graduates. Back, from left: Justin Mayo, Billy Vanborg II, Samantha Holmes-Hooper, Jonathan Phillip, Terence Joe, Theresa Chimeralrea, Cheryl Martins, Terence Tall, David Huntington, Gustan Green, Sanky Ulak and Timothy Hooper. Middle: 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 (UAF assistant professor, and Louis Silas (instructor). Front: James Millard Jr., Eric Bauchmann, Derrick Henry, Drew Patrick, Zachary Alexakis, Dwayne James Jr., Roc Sweeney, Morgan Martins, John Meaney, Kalen Kelly and Anthony Hooper.
Two weeks of Advanced Firefighting Academy culminated in a graduation ceremony in Tok on June 10. This is the third year that the academy graduated a class, marking the advancement and excellence of wildland firefighter training and interagency cooperation in Alaska.
The 34 students ranged 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 academy environment offers 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,” said Greg Arkle, onsite academy coordinator.
The students recognize the value of striving for excellence. 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, said “never think you have done enough. You can always do more.”
Academy cooperators include the Alaska Division of Forestry, U.S. 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.
Graduating from the Yukon-Kuskokwim region were James Anthony of Holy Cross, Theresa B. Chimeralrea of Chevak, Ricky M. Cristo of McGrath, Gustan Lawrence Green of Hooper Bay, Samantha J. M. Holmes-Hooper of McGrath, Anthony Gavin Hooper of McGrath, Terence Joe of Hooper Bay, Kalen C. Kelly of Pilot Station, Cheryl F. Martins of Chevak, Morgan K. Martins of Chevak, Jonathan Phillip of Kongiganak, Terence C. Tall of Chevak, Sanky Allen Ulak of Scammon Bay and Billy Joe Vanborg of McGrath.