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Heavy equipment academy provides hands-on training for wildland firefighters



Heavy Equipment Operator Academy
credit: Geographic Area Heavy Equipment Operator Academy

The Southern Area Geographical Heavy Equipment Operator Academy (GHEOA) is underway, with this year’s academy taking place June 22-June 30, 2022.

This is the sixth time this academy has been held, where heavy equipment operators will have the opportunity for hands-on learning in “real-life scenarios” during a special training at the Mississippi Forestry Commission’s 127-acre field site in Raymond, MS.

The GHEOA creates an avenue for interagency partners to receive consistent heavy equipment training, which helps improve and standardize education for the wildland firefighting community. This course is designed to be a hands-on, seat-in-the-equipment, multi-scenario training, with individual coaching and guidance. The GHEOA is managed by a Type-3 Interagency Management Team that encourages collaboration between several state and federal agencies throughout the southeast, including the Mississippi Forestry Commission and the U.S. Forest Service.

“This Academy is designed to provide hands-on training that will improve firefighting skills of operators and heavy equipment bosses,” said Mike Haisten, Incident Commander for the event. “Operators get a chance to perform in various fuel types and terrain using different sizes and types of equipment. They get the opportunity to hone their tactical skills, which improves the overall capability of the firefighting community, and may help them get out of a critical situation in the future. The safety and training benefits of attending the GHEOA are invaluable for wildland firefighters,” Haisten said.

Check out the video below of a previous class to see what attendees have in store:

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