Students learn new techniques to safely manage fires - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Students learn new techniques to safely manage fires

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PLOVER (WAOW) -

Bright flames and smoke filled the air in Plover.

"Wisconsin has a decent amount of wildfires here, it's not as bad as it is out west but we do have one of the largest programs in the United States," said U.W. Stevens Point Fire Crew Public Information Officer, Erik Desotelle.

Organizers said more than 80 students were learning techniques to maintain wildland fires and prescribed burns.

"Practicing basic techniques in fire suppression here at the burn piles, we also have stations set up where they'll be practicing with hand tools," said Desotelle.

They said the skills they learn here, can be used anywhere in the country.

"Some of our members have ended up in places like Wyoming, Colorado, down south in Florida," said Desotelle.

Students like Danielle Peterson said it's an exciting way to learn.

"Hands on to me is always so important, and so being able to come here and get the training that we need to actually start what we want to do in the future is incredible," said Peterson.

She came to the training session from the U.W. River Falls campus.

"We actually want to start our own fire crew at River Falls, since we do have 16 students," said Peterson.

Organizers said the program has attracted so much interest, U.W. Stevens Point will offer a wildland fire science program this fall.

"The role of fire is becoming more and more important from a firefighting and the management side," said U.W. Stevens Point Associate Dean, Paul Doruska.

Educators said that's a first for the area.

"There's a number of programs on the structural fire side of things, but we're going to be the only one in the upper midwest," said Doruska.

A new opportunity for students to gain valuable experience.

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