Members from the Kanab, East Zion and Cedar Mountain Fire Departments completed intensive Incident Command training during a three-day event held in Kanab from January 27 to 29. The course, designed and taught by the Utah Fire and Rescue Academy (UFRA), uses a high-tech computer system to simulate emergency situations tough enough to challenge even the most seasoned firefighters. These realistic scenarios teach fire department officers how to take command during the types of emergencies fire departments face, so they can better manage resources and improve incident outcomes.

During the training, students assume the roles of incident commanders, fire engine captains, ambulance crews, and other emergency responders, rotating through different stations to experience various perspectives while sharpening radio protocols and communication skills. With each scenario the students gain proficiency, and with each rotation, the difficulty of the drills increase. Despite the intense nature of the training, however, course instructors maintain a positive and supportive atmosphere. “It is a place to learn,” said instructor Dave Owens, a former battalion chief with 27-plus years of fire line experience.

Kanab was just the latest stop for the UFRA Mobile Command Training Center (CTC). It has visited dozens of Utah communities from Logan to Kanab since it’s start in 2007, according to CTC instructor “Doc” Coombs, a captain from Midvale, Utah, with 26 years under his belt.

And the training really pays off. “The biggest difference is the immediate increase in confidence and skills from this experience,” said CTC instructor and Layton Fire Chief Kevin Ward, a 33-year veteran of the fire service.

Class participant and Kanab Captain Landon Welch agreed, noting how “this training teaches us to communicate better with each other to get the job done.”

Kanab Fire Chief Joe Decker added, “even though we have volunteer departments, we still must train to the same high standards as paid, full-time departments. This type of training makes keeping those high standards much more achievable for us.”

As host of the training, Chief Decker was particularly pleased with the continuing investment by UFRA in Kane County’s fire departments and the opportunity to train with colleagues from other departments.

Kane County has fire departments in Kanab, Orderville, East Zion, Alton, Big Water and the Cedar Mountain Fire Protection District. Kanab also cooperates closely with the Fredonia Fire Department. These organizations exist due to the hard work and dedication of their volunteer members. To get involved, stop by your local department or call (435) 644-2718 for more details.