By Pamela Redford, Fort Riley Public AffairsJuly 13, 2012
FORT RILEY, Kan. -- For the first time in the installation's history, Fort Riley Fire and Emergency Services hosted the Kansas State Firefighters Association Regional Fire School July 7 and 8 at Camp Funston.
The two-day conference included learning opportunities for regional firefighters to keep their skill sets sharpened and learn new techniques. Attendees included about 50 firefighters and support staff from several counties, including Riley, Geary, Polk, Jefferson and Reno.
"This is the first time we have ever hosted this type of event," said Shawn Sullivan, assistant chief of prevention and public education officer, FES, who also said most of the weekend classes were taught by Fort Riley firefighters.
Attendees chose from the following professional development classes:
• Fire cause determination
• Pumps operations
• Rapid intervention
• Search and rescue
• Prevention and public education
• Wildland fire
• Aircraft fires and familiarization
• Thermal imaging
• Fire streams and hose practice
• National Fire Academy, managing company tactical operations
Staff Sgt. Francisco Banuelos, Warrior Transition Battalion, said he found the training helpful to his career as a medic and military firefighter.
"I hope to use the experience in my transition to civilian life," he said.
The fire school also included a live structural burn in the FES training tower at Camp Funston. Furniture and walls were rearranged by FES staff ahead of time to ensure Fort Riley firefighters benefited from the exercise, as well as regional partners.
Bryan Frayser, assistant chief of training, FES, said adding an element of realism is always helpful to firefighter training.
"You do this so many times, you get used to it, so we move the walls and furniture. Then they have no idea what they're going into," he said.
KSFFA president J.L. Ellis said he felt the weekend training went very well for firefighters across the state. "This being our first time at Fort Riley, the venue was much different from what we are used to having. A lot of times we end up using whatever we can for training purposes. We use a lot of school buildings and community centers, mostly through local fire departments. We don't typically have access to training grounds and facilities, such as the burn building at Fort Riley," he said.
Ellis also praised FES for taking the lead by delivering most of the classes themselves with their own instructors.
"It was very refreshing for us. We got to sit in on some good classes and borrow useful ideas," he said, adding he's already emailed FES leadership asking if Fort Riley will consider having KSFFA back in the future. "I think we could make it much bigger than it was and truly make it a regional school that is highly attended."
Recalling a favorite quote, Ellis agreed it is absolutely the job of older firefighters to teach the younger ones how to become firefighters.
"We have to continually learn and constantly push ourselves to sharpen our craft to be able to respond as safety and efficiently as possible," he said. "The end goal is for everyone to go home at the end of a call. We have to pass that along to the next generation, and we are doing that."
KSFFA hosts regional schools once a month in locations across the state. To view current schedules and learn more about KSFFA, visit www.ksffa.com.