For the past 20 years, Arizonas Department of Forestry and Fire Management has been helping local firefighters get hands-on wildfire training, so they’re better equipped when they return to their station.

For a the Elfrida Fire District, it’s imperative to get more help during wildfire season because of the remote and rural landscape.

Logan Adams, Division Chief of Operations and Wildlands Coordinator for the department, says it could take 45 minutes for other local agencies to come help them.

“With a smaller district, its nicer to have more than a few good really trained up guys because we may not have that many guys, he said.

The department has 23 crew members that range from volunteers to full-time staff, an increase from previous years because of the growth of their wildlands program.

In Cochise County, dry conditions can cause fires to spread quickly. After a monsoon storm, firefighters take extra precautions because of the added humidity.

That adds an entirely different kind of complexity to the fire,” said Assistant Fire Engine Operator for Arizonas Department of Forestry and Fire Management, Collin Robbins. “Now we’re looking at our firefighter safety on the fire line, versus trying to put the fire out because we’re not used to humidity that high.

Elfrida firefighters Luis Batista and Ramon Hernandez say understanding the terrain and how it affects a fire’s movement will help them keep local communities safe. This is why Adams is okay lending his guys to the state for five months.

We’re helping more people, which is the end goal of the district, he said.

Adams’ spent two seasons with the state’s crew based in Cochise County before earning the title of wildland coordinator for Elfrida Fire District.

“I got out of my shell,” Adams said. “I got to see a lot more that I wouldn’t have just working at one place, under one boss. So, it really helped me evolve into being able to help lead and run a program.

Now hes encouraging others to participate in the states seasonal program that’s designed to educate local firefighters on managing and controlling wildfires.

Monsoon Watch 2024

In this business, on-the-job training is really the only way to do it, Robbins said. “You can read everything you want in a book, and that’s fine and dandy, but when it really comes to the job, the book doesn’t really mean a whole lot.

Batista and Hernandez are spending the next few months working for a state fire crew, learning firsthand from Robbins and the Engine 361 crew.

What we want to bring to Elfrida is the knowledge, the skills, you know the tactics, all that stuff, so that we could be a reliable resource, Batista said.

He and Hernandez are learning what it takes to chase, manage and stop a wildfiresomething theyll teach others when they’re back in Elfrida.

They come back and they help train on our new guys,” Adams said. “So we’re getting a lot of different aspects and trained personnel that are helping evolve our whole program.

He says the state also helps them with other training classes so their crews are up-to-date on what they need to know, and they also provide grant opportunities for equipment and capital purchases. Adams said they are working on getting a water truck for wildlands that will be covered by a state grant.