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Firefighters participate in national pilot program
Local Firefighters recently participated in an assessment that will eventually allow structural firefighters to also combat wildland fires.

The North Carolina Division of Forest Resources has partnered with an international group of wildland and structural fire-fighting experts as they visited several locations through North Carolina in late September to conduct interviews with local emergency responders as part of a pilot program known as the Recognition of Prior Learning.

The Recognition of Prior Learning Program seeks to identify skills that structural firefighters have learned during the course of their regular duties that will carry over into the wildland fire fighting sphere; providing for a more efficient qualification system that reduces redundancies in training and speeds the progress of trainees from classroom to the fireline.

Nashville is one of the North  Carolina locations that is participating in the pilot program.

Shawn Stokes, who serves as the Assistant Director of National Programs for the International Association of Fire Chiefs, said the program is successful in Australia currently and officials are trying to implement it in the United States now.

“Each piece is going further and further in the development,” Stokes said.

Nine Nashville Fire Fighters and one Nash County Fire Marshal participated in the program here.

Brett Storey, who is with the Australian Fire Services, said Nashville has been very cooperative and truly interested in learning about the program. Storey also visited Nashville last year during the assessment. Storey is serving as a technical expert for the rural fire service.

“It’s nice to come back the second time and see where the improvements have been made,” Storey said. “They’re committed to the project. We’ve seen a lot of good quality evidence come out of them.”

Jason Edwards, Nashville Fire Captain, said he’s learned a lot through the assessments. Because fire services has expanded so much over time to include more than just structure fires, this program is just another area fire fighters can be trained in.

“We’re honored to be a part of this program,” Edwards said. “We’ve learned a lot and will continue to learn a lot.”

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