• State Dept. of Forestry offers firefighter training program

    By: Tiffany Alaniz


    BERRYHILL, Okla. - The Oklahoma Department of Forestry is on a mission to get local firefighters trained to fight wildfires.

    FOX23 talked with the director of the agency to find out how the new program will help in Oklahoma and across the nation.

    “It takes people who have received structural training and it gives them all of the same wild land training that our own firefighters of that U.S. Forest Service firefighters receive,” said George Geissler.

    FOX23 reported Saturday that a handful of firefighters in Berryhill have already graduated the program.

    “[It] allows them to go out with us on incidents. It allows them to fight fires on federal lands,” Geissler said.

    Firefighters must pass a course and a fitness test to get their red card certification.

    “We’re hoping that by doing this we are going to increase the effectiveness of the firefighters, but also increase their safety exponentially,” Geissler said.

    Geissler said people often think of California when they think of wildfires, but he said the newly trained firefighters will also likely use those new skills in Oklahoma.

    “Well we have really bad fires too. And, in fact, if you look at some of our fires, they are some of the worst that are around,” Geissler said.

    After several deadly wildfires in years' past, the goal of the training is to keep firefighters safe.

    “It’s the first full year of this new program. We have about 120 firefighters that are now trained and we look to continue that as we go forward,” Geissler said.

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