KGUN 9NewsWildfire Watch


Wildland fire crews prepare for Arizona wildfire season during two-day training

Fire truck
Posted at 11:41 PM, Apr 03, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-04 02:41:52-04

APACHE JUNCTIONS, AZ (KGUN) — Arizona’s dry climate makes it the perfect breeding ground for wildfires, and while most of us will run away from danger, wildland fire crews are putting their hard hats on and running toward it.

"The mindset isn’t necessarily ‘I’m here to save people.’ It’s – ‘this is my duty,'" said Jeff Gallivan, the Battalion Chief for the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management.

With 9 out of 10 wildfires being caused by humans, Gallivan is making sure response teams stay ready.

"When the fire starts, it doesn’t care what color your truck is. So we’re all one fire service," he said. "If your house is threatened by wildfire, you want somebody there to protect it."

On April 1 and 2, DFFM held its annual wildland fire training with local, state and federal agencies in Apache Junction. Crews learned how to combat wildfires through in-class learning and field drills, including fire shelter deployment and radio communication.

Keyhan Tabak, the fire captain for the Superstition Fire Crew, said the hours of preparation come down to one key component - safety.

"We want to make sure our firefighters are safe, they’re trained," Tabak said. "Physically, mentally trained and capable and able to fight that fire so their safety comes number one."

With an expected above-average fire season this summer for southern Arizona, according to the Coronado National Forest, Gallivan said it's the mindset that could be the difference between life and death.

"Wildland firefighting isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s hot days, it gets over 100 degrees and we’re still out there with no shade. It’s dirty; you camp out…if your mind starts slipping to other things, you could miss the little things that could harm you or kill you in the long run."